UKinbound’s first Business Barometer, a quarterly survey established to gauge members’ levels of business and inhibitors impacting on inbound tourism, has found that members are concerned that inbound tourism bookings/visitor numbers are set to be significantly reduced, despite talk of an Olympic tourism legacy.
Commenting on the Business Barometer findings, Mary Rance, UKinbound’s chief executive said: “If ever there was a time for the Government to tackle the key issues affecting UKinbound tourism beyond the Olympics, it is now. The industry is very concerned and the government should be too.
“If there is one thing that needs to be addressed immediately it is visa application processing times, which is impacting on potential visitor numbers to the UK.
“Why can’t the government learn from President Obama’s initiative to significantly decrease processing times from countries such as China from a matter of months to just a few days?
“Like the USA, the UK Government must recognize that we are failing to attract tourists from China, Russia and India due to prolonged and drawn out visa processes.
“Despite wanting to come to the UK, they are travelling to France, Germany and Italy where tourist visas are easier to obtain.
“These countries are reaping the rewards whilst our Government sits back believing that the Olympic legacy alone will continue to grow visitor numbers. Unfortunately, they are misguided.”
The UKinbound Business Barometer, undertaken in conjunction with Qa Research, surveyed members who represent accommodation, attractions and hotel operators.
Key findings compared with same periods last year showed that:
During the period January – April 2012 just over half the respondents (52 per cent) said their inbound tourism bookings/visitor numbers were either ‘considerably’ higher or slightly higher year on year, while just over a quarter (26 per cent) said they were either ‘considerably’ or ‘slightly’ lower, with around a fifth (22 per cent) saying they were ‘about the same’.
During the period May – August 2012 however, the outlook is significantly less optimistic. Only about one in twenty (five per cent) of all respondents said their inbound tourism bookings/visitor numbers were considerably higher, just under a quarter said ‘slightly higher’ (23 per cent) and almost a half said they were ‘slightly lower’ or ‘considerably lower’ (27 per cent and 21 per cent respectively).
Post-Olympics (for the period August 13th-September 9th) response to the statement ‘my inbound tourism bookings/visitor numbers are significantly reduced’ indicates a fairly mixed range of responses overall, although amongst tour operators in particular, more than half ‘agree’ or ‘strongly’ agree with the statement (26 per cent and 37 per cent respectively).
Looking ahead for the short term period May to August, respondents consider the top three inhibitors to their inbound tourism business to be the 2012 London Olympics (56 per cent), the availability and cost of accommodation in the UK (54 per cent) and the overall global economic climate (38 per cent).
Looking further ahead to the period six to 12 months hence, respondents overwhelmingly consider the Global economic climate to be the key inhibitor to inbound tourism business.