Since 2020, visitor numbers across the UK’s most popular tourist attractions, including the Natural History Museum, Tate Modern, and the British Museum, have struggled to recover. The rising cost of living and the lack of Chinese tourists in the region has also hobbled the demand for visitors in the country.
In 2019, London was among the top three most visited cities in the world. The UK capital welcomed about 21 million tourists, with the tourism industry being the source of livelihood for over 700,000 people. That accounted for 11.6% of London’s economic output for the year. However, the number of visitors in the UK hit record lows during the lockdown in 2020 and 2021 as social distancing and facemasks were the norm inside venues across the UK.
Despite fewer international tourists affecting the visitor levels in the UK’s most popular attractions, the number of visitors from the US is growing steadily. American tourists are a key part of the UK’s economy, especially in London and it’s great to see their numbers growing steadily. In 2022, about one in seven tourists in the UK came from America. These visitors are back to the UK in 2023, boosting the UK economy.
Why the UK is the top destination for Americans
In 2022, the number of US visitors in the UK surpassed the 2019 levels as the country welcomed 4.56 million Americans. Most these Americans (48%) visited Britain for leisure, spending time in entertainment centers like the London Dungeon, the London Bridge experience, and National Gallery.
The UK is also benefiting from its privileged position as a popular gambling tourism destination. This gambling scene is licensed and regulated, with major gambling cities like Manchester, London, and Liverpool featuring world-class casinos, quality hotels, and solid tourism infrastructure. For online gamblers looking for more non-conventional options, there are also dozens of non-Gamstop UK casinos that would provide players with the freedom to set their own limits to gamble away.
Besides leisure, 29% of Americans visited the UK last year to spend time with their friends and family, while 13% visited for business purposes. Many travel marketers also tried selling the idea of mixing work with holidays and the concept seems to be gaining traction. According to UK travel firms, US companies are allowing and encouraging their workers to extend their work trips to weekends and book excursions in between meetings.
According to Business Travel Association chief executive Clive Warren, blended travel was a significant factor in this boom in US visitors in the UK. Many companies have also made their travel policies more flexible, with executives encouraging their employees to spend their weeks in the UK.
While gambling tourism, the dollar’s strength, and blended travel boosted the number of American visitors to the UK in 2022, there are signs that the US travel demand might be softening. That’s attributable to Brexit restrictions on travel, which include long delays going through the English Channel. Additionally, the mass layoffs in the tech sector mean there will be less flexibility and freedom for remote work.
Even if the boom of US visitors in the US appears to be temporary, British travel businesses affected by the pandemic seem to be recovering well. Travel experts expect the tourism market will recover to the 2019 level by 2024 and Chinese tourists will start traveling internationally again after the pandemic measures are lifted.