National tourism agency, VisitBritain, forecasts a return to growth for British tourism in 2010. Recent figures for 2009 suggest that the tourism industry has reached a turning point, marking it as an economic driver to lift Britain out of recession as we enter 2010, and beyond.
During the first 10 months of 2009, 300, 000 more inbound holiday visitors chose the UK as a holiday destination. In the three months to October, leisure and business inbound visitors spent £5bn while in the UK, that’s 3% more than during the same period of 2008, as visitors took advantage of the great value for money that Britain offered.
An improving economic situation and favourable exchange rate has resulted in the number of visitors to the UK from North America increasing at an annual rate of 11% in the three months to October, a very encouraging trend for the new year.
Looking ahead to 2010 we forecast a slight rise of 0.8% in the volume of inbound tourism to 30.4million, with inbound visitor spending rising to £17.1 billion, an increase of nearly 4% on 2009. If sterling remains weak we may see a steeper increase in visitor spending than expected.
Sandie Dawe, chief executive, VisitBritain said: “Over recent years tourism has been the fastest growing industry in the world. In the UK, it is the 5th largest industry and 3rd largest export earner.
“Our forecasts suggest that whilst, 2010 will not see record numbers of inbound visitors or visitor spend, the prolonged weakness in the value of sterling will result in a stronger performance, particularly in visitor spend.
“These figures from the International Passenger Survey, and VisitBritain’s forecasts, suggest that Britain’s tourism is now heading back in the right direction and whilst conditions will still be tough, we believe that the exchange rate will make Britain attractive and offer exceptional value for the new year.”
VisitBritain will be launching three-year global campaigns in 2010 along three key themes: Classic, Dynamic and Luxury, encompassing traditional Britishness, youth and high revenue markets.
A new VisitBritain iPhone app has been launched as part of VisitBritain’s film tourism work around the new Sherlock Holmes film, allowing users to locate and then visit locations from their favourite British films. The theme of film tourism will be continued around the release of the new Robin Hood film.
Sandie added: “The Ryder Cup will also take place in Britain in 2010 at the Celtic Manor Resort in Newport, South Wales and we will be capitalising on the opportunities that hosting this prestigious event brings.
“So, challenging times ahead, but there are some signs of optimism, with VisitBritain launching key campaigns which will help build the value of the visitor economy in the UK over the next year.”
Opportunities in 2010
• Growing demand for business travel.
• Sterling remaining weak.
• Stability in the aviation sector if oil prices are steady and consumer confidence returns.
• UK being highly rated as a nation brand, especially our heritage and cultural offering.
• Additionally in 2010 ramping up of activity relating to the Cultural Olympiad and growing activity associated with the Games in 2012.
• Set piece events such as Glastonbury, Wimbledon, the Ryder Cup in Wales and The Edinburgh Festivals.
Challenges for 2010
• Whether the global economic recovery continues to gather momentum.
• The competitive environment looks set to get even tougher.
• The increases (in November 2009 and planned for November 2010) in Air Passenger Duty.
• The exchange rate is both a potential challenge and an opportunity for inbound tourism in 2010.
• Some airlines remain in financial difficulty as was evident from the recent collapse of flyglobespan.
• Visa fees and processes remain a barrier to visitors from some markets.
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