Latest figures released by UKinbound, the trade association for over 300 UK inbound tourism businesses, indicate a strong recovery for UK tourism arrivals in 2022, although still significantly below pre-pandemic levels.
In a March survey of its members, undertaken by Qa Research, over one in three (39%) of respondents stated that international bookings and visitors for April/May/June 2022 were expected to be the same or higher than pre-pandemic, however the majority (61%) are expecting international bookings/visitors to be down, by an average of 47%.
Inbound tourism businesses revenue predictions for this period were similar, with almost half (45%) expecting them to be the same or higher than pre-pandemic, and 55% expecting them to be lower by an average of 49%. The US market is recovering the strongest, with one in three businesses seeing growth in this market.
Parallels also emerged when businesses were asked to consider international bookings and visitors between July and December 2022, compared with pre-pandemic. 50% are expecting figures to be the same or higher, and 50% are expecting international bookings and visitor numbers to be lower by an average of 41%.
Business confidence continues to rise, with 63% of companies confident about the impending 12 months, up from 56% in January 2022. April 2020 saw confidence levels at an all time low, 11%, but they have steadily risen every quarter since then.
Commenting on the results, Joss Croft, CEO, UKinbound said “It’s fantastic to see international travellers returning to the UK and we’re delighted to see the strongest growth from our number one market, the USA. The ending of all UK travel restrictions has given international consumers the confidence to begin travelling here again. Compared with 2020 and 2021 business is booming but we’re significantly lagging behind 2019 prosperity and our competitors.
“Inbound tourism is the country’s second largest service export industry, second only to financial services. It can accelerate the UK’s economic recovery but it’s a competitive industry and more needs to be done to entice international visitors back to the UK. We need a more competitive visa system, to rectify the devastating impact the removal of ID Card usage has had on the UK’s inbound youth traveller sector, and resolve the substantial negative impact the removal of tax-free shopping is having.
“Our welcome is also critically important, whether that be processing at our borders, or the service received at our hotels, cultural attractions and restaurants. Continued Government investment in the promotion of Britain abroad and the implementation of policies and funding that support the recovery and growth of businesses across the sector continues to be vital.”