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WTTC reports recovery in outbound UK tourism

WTTC reports recovery in outbound UK tourism

New research from the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) shows flight bookings for UK outbound travel to some of the most popular summer sun destinations have bounced back.

However, inbound has largely failed to take off.

The data revealed a huge disparity between forward flight bookings for outbound and inbound UK travel was collated for the global tourism body by ForwardKeys.

The pent-up desire to travel shows in forward flight booking data for UK holidaymakers who are flocking to family favourites, such as Turkey (up 53 per cent) and Greece (up 51 per cent) over the busy summer period, compared to pre-pandemic figures.

Spain, a long-time summer favourite and the most popular destination overall for sun-seeking British travellers, is also performing well and ahead of pre-pandemic levels (up one per cent).


Meanwhile, bookings during the same period to the US, which in 2019 was the fifth most popular destination for jet-setting Brits, remain ten per cent lower than before the pandemic.

The data shows while inbound bookings for international arrivals are up by a staggering 1,453 per cent compared to 2021, when severe restrictions to travel were in place, bookings to date are still well below pre-pandemic levels - down 45 per cent versus 2019.

Julia Simpson, WTTC chief executive, said: “The massive imbalance between outbound and inbound UK international flight bookings is a worrying sign for the recovering tourism sector and the UK economy.

“As the pandemic recedes and international travel returns, it’s encouraging to see holidaymakers making the most of their new found freedom to travel safely.”

In terms of inbound travellers to the UK, only Sweden has risen above pre-pandemic levels (up 15 per cent) while other key source markets have not recovered, indicating the UK still has a long way to go to encourage international travellers back to its shores.