The tourism industry turns over and contributes billions of pounds to an economy. Governed by trends and affected by global fluctuations, the sector in the UK is continuing a steady pace. This leads to more employment and more opportunities for the catering businesses as a whole. Tourism is the UK’s third largest employer, accounting for 9.5% of total employment. In employment terms, it is one of the fastest growing sectors, with 265,000 businesses in the UK. This is 10% of all UK businesses. According to UK Tourism Statistics 2016, published by the Tourism Alliance, food and beverage serving services are the biggest category in the sector.
Year of TourismWith 2017 designated the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, by the UN World Tourism Organisation there is a heightened focus on tourism as a major economic asset. According to TripBarometer (2015), the second most common thing that travellers are willing to spend more on as a treat are special dining experiences (41%), followed by accommodation (41%), activities (35%) and shopping (24%). The findings from the latest UNWTO Tourism Barometer show that destinations worldwide received 348 million international tourists (overnight visitors) between January and April 2016. This is a 5.3% rise over the same period last year. The forecast for May-August 2016 anticipates around 500M tourists travelling abroad in the Northern Hemisphere. Europe this year so far has seen an increase of 4% and is still the world’s most visited region. In terms of the UK, it appears that the vote to leave the European Union in the recent referendum, despite raising uncertainty in the market and leading to a depreciation of the sterling pound, has not deterred visitors and has shown no significant results. What these results show is that the world is still on the move and the industry is still growing. “Results show a strong desire to travel and this continues to drive tourism growth. Destinations keep benefitting from solid demand across all world regions despite ongoing challenges, showing that tourism is a dynamic and resilient economic sector,” said UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai.
Catering opportunitiesFor catering establishments, one sector which is ripe for the picking is international students. Although not all students are classified as tourists, the total spending by international students on all types of courses in the UK, was estimated last year to be £14bn. It has the potential to grow to £25bn by 2020. The opportunities for catering within this market is limitless and the new student year has just begun. Tourism is a major economic asset, but trends and directions are ever-changing. For the catering sector, the advice is to:
- be consistent with high standards,
- have a presence online wherever possible and
- ensure that all equipment and appliances are kept up to date and maintained.