The global slowdown is already hitting UK inbound tourism, espeically the long-haul market. The number of touist arrivals fell 3.8% in May 2008 compared with the same period last year. More alarming was the even larger and highly significant fall in forward bookings, down 9.5%.The report from UK Inbound says there is no doubt that the combined effects of economic uncertainty, unfavourable exchange rates, high oil prices and the increasing cost of food is seriously eroding consumer confidence in virtually all key long haul markets, especially North America.
With all outbound leisure tourism from the USA being severely curtailed the business barometer estimates this could mean up to 500,000 fewer American visitors to the UK this year.
Eurozone business, particularly from the accession states, continues to remain fairly solid supported by a strong Euro and UK Inbound expects this to continue for the rest of this year. However, beyond that it seems likely the Euro will ease off its current high-water mark.
The trend this year has been declining long-haul demand being partially offset by modest growth in short-haul traffic producing relatively flat visitor numbers and a drop in revenue. This scenario looks set to continue for at least the rest of 2008 and most likely well into 2009. In these trading conditions
price becomes increasingly the prime determining factor for potential customers and, despite rising costs, there is extreme pressure to discount prices. Already it is clear that 2008 is going to be another tough year for export tourism.
UKinbound is a trade organisation representing the inbound tourism industry in the UK. The association represents over 230 major companies and organisations in all sectors of the industry, operating 4,000 plus outlets in the UK. Each month UKinbound produces a Business Barometer based on a confidential online survey of members, comparing visitor numbers and booking forecasts with a corresponding period
in the previous year. The results shown below are weighted composite figures for all business sectors.