According to statistics from the ONS, visitor numbers to the UK are slightly down year on year by about 2%; with 2.9 million overseas visits in March 2019.
However, 2018 was a record-breaking year in terms of tourists so the figures are not in any way alarming.
Between January and March 2019, there were 7.8 million inbound visits to the UK. This is just 1% below the inbound visits in the same period in 2018. Overall, overseas visitors to the UK spent £22.7 B in the twelve months to March 2019. This is down a more worrying 8% compared to the previous twelve-month period.
In June and July, tourism gave a huge boost to the economy with the hosting of the Cricket World Cup. Hampshire County Cricket Club hosted five matches in the long-awaited tournament. This brought a total of £18.3 million to Southampton alone. While Birmingham is predicted to generate a staggering £32.1 million from the tournament.
Many of the fans have travelled from Pakistan and India to watch the cricket. The recent India versus Pakistan match witnessing a staggering 750,000 applications for the 26,000-seat stadium. The importance of sporting global events in terms of boosting the economy cannot be underestimated.
At the end of June, the government announced a deal to prepare Britain for an extra 9 million visitors per year. This is heralded as a major boost for the pub and hospitality sectors in particular. A Hospitality and Tourism Skills Board will be created to promote and market hospitality jobs as viable career options. A three-year industry led skills and recruitment campaign will also be funded.
In addition, local tourism zones will be created alongside a new business events strategy and more investment in infrastructure. The deal will also support the creation of 10,000 new apprenticeships for anyone building a career in tourism or hospitality.
Hospitality sector trade body UK Hospitality hailed it as a landmark moment as chief executive, Kate Nicholls explains. “This sector deal marks a tremendous moment for all of us in the hospitality, tourism and leisure industries. The move will be absolutely critical in changing the perception of the sector within Government and the wider public opinion, and acknowledges hospitality is key to the country’s economic growth.”
The Rise of Chinese Visitors
Finally, China’s rising wealth has resulted in a huge growth of tourism abroad, making Chinese people the world’s most abundant tourists. A new travel trends study by TripAdvisor reveals that travellers from China have shown one of the biggest increases in views of UK destinations, with an increase of 133% in Chinese travellers.
“Overall, these results are great news for the UK hospitality industry – we’re seeing real growth in interest from many countries and resoundingly good reviews from travellers,” said Fabrizio Orlando, industry relations manager, TripAdvisor.