UK tourism expects bumper Christmas

UK tourism expects bumper Christmas

The UK is expecting a rise in overseas visitors during Christmas and into the New Year.

Forward flight bookings to the UK overall are showing a rise of nine between Sunday, December 23rd and Saturday, January 5th compared to the same period last year.

Forward bookings to the UK from China, the Middle East and the United States are particularly strong with all showing double-digit increases, up 44, 59 and 27 per cent respectively.

Many bookings are thought to have been driven by the falling value of the pound, which has made the UK a more affordably option for overseas travellers.

The increase in bookings from some of the UK’s most valuable long-haul visitor markets echoes a longer-term trend.

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Forward bookings from the US to the UK for December 2018 to May 2019 are up 27 per cent compared to the same period previously.

The US is the UK’s most valuable inbound visitor market for tourism spend.

Visitors from the US spent a record £3.6 billion across the UK in 2017, up nine per cent on the previous year.

Visits from the US grew 13 per cent to 3.9 million in 2017, the highest since 2000. 

Bookings from China, the world’s most valuable outbound visitor market, are up 25 per cent for December 2018 to May 2019.

China moved into the UK’s top ten most valuable inbound visitor markets last year with visits reaching a record 337,000, up 29 per cent on 2016, and spend up 35 per cent to an all-time high of £694 million.

For every 22 visits from China, one job is created in the UK’s tourism industry.

VisitBritain director Patricia Yates said: “Tourism is one of the UK’s most valuable export industries and needs no trade deals to attract overseas investment.

“It is also a fiercely competitive global industry and people have a lot of choice.

“We want the UK to be the number one destination for global travellers so it is great to see forward bookings looking strong in the coming weeks and months from some of our most valuable long-haul visitor markets.”

Tourism is worth £127 billion to the UK economy, creating jobs and boosting economic growth across its nations and regions.