The good work of the London 2012 Olympics in boosting the UK’s tourism potential is likely to be wiped out by next year’s increase in Air Passenger Duty (APD), a report by World Travel Market released today reveals.
As many as four out of five of the 1,310 travel professionals from around the world surveyed said the Olympics would boost London’s tourism while 67% said the impact would be positive on the UK as a whole.
However, with the Government planning to increase almost all levels of APD paid on 1 April, 2013, making the most expensive bracket £188 per person, 84% of respondents said this would lead to a drop in inbound tourism. More than a third – 34% – claimed the APD increase would mean significantly fewer overseas visitors coming to the UK while half said it would mean slightly fewer tourists would visit the country. Just 16% think the change will have no impact.
Equally importantly is the impact the APD increase is predicted to have on the Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) markets which are already strong and offer some of the greatest potential for future growth. Worryingly, almost eight out of ten (79%) believe fewer BRICS tourists will visit the UK following the increase, made up of 31% saying significantly fewer, and 48% believing slightly fewer.
Of the five nations, 27% of respondents believed Brazilian tourists would be worst hit by the extra expense followed by Indian, South African, Chinese and Russian tourists.
China is the UK’s target market following the Olympics with the government spending £8million on an expansion of its ‘Great’ marketing campaign aimed just at China and Chinese tourists. 16% of the industry believe China is the most impacted of the BRICS due to the 2013 APD increase.
Reed Travel Exhibitions Chairman World Travel Market Fiona Jeffery said: “It’s heartbreaking to think the good work of an entire nation can be wiped out in an instant by the next APD increase.
“APD was increased by double the rate of inflation this year and will go up again next year. The UK already has the highest air taxes in the world and its increase could see fewer tourist, especially those from targeted countries, visit the UK.”