UK Tourism enjoys a record-breaking year

NPD Sales Director Ben Dews reflects on an encouraging year for the UK tourism industry and looks ahead to what 2018 has in store for the group and its clients.

When it was announced that Britain would be leaving the EU in 2016, many warned of the devastating economic repercussions, that were sure to follow.

While the announcement brought with it many uncertainties about Britain’s future, perhaps the biggest concern of all was how the economy would fare giving our decision to go it alone.

Despite the initial plummet of the pound which caused a few nervous jitters across the UK, the doom and gloom many expected hasn’t arrived and the tourism industry in particular has proved to be defiant in the face of all the turmoil.

Tourism in the UK is seriously big business. Generating an estimated £130 billion revenue for the economy each year, it is one of the country’s most successful and lucrative industries.

In 2017 the number of visits to the UK is estimated to have reached 39.9 million, an increase of 6.2% on the previous year with an estimated forecast of spends at £25.1 billion – an 11.6% increase on 2016 along with the creation of an additional 100,000 jobs.

Since 2009, tourism in the UK has grown at a faster rate than most other countries and although Britain faces a long and tricky road to untangle itself from the EU web, it is expected to remain one of the most desirable and visited destinations in the world.

Looking at the period from January 2017 – September 2017, holiday visits to the UK were up 2% to a September record of 1.2 million. The record breaking continues over longer time periods as well. Between July and September 2017 there were 4.8 million holiday visits to the UK (8% more than the same three-month period last year).

Up to September 2017, there was a record 12.3 million holiday visits and the latest 12-month period (October 2016-September 2017) is the strongest ever 12-month period for inbound holiday visits.

September 2017 also saw another record smashed with spending rising 2% compared to September 2016 to reach £2.3 billion, while from the period January to September 2017 inbound visitors spent a record £18.7 billion, 9% more than the first nine months of 2016. Of course, Brits have also been contributing to the tourism boom thanks to the growing trend towards staycations.

While the rising cost of travelling abroad might have put a bit of a dampener on some folk’s spirits, it has encouraged us to make the most of what we have right here on our doorstep and the appeal of holidaying at home shows no sign of slowing as traditional seaside towns across the UK enjoy a welcome resurgence.

As we reflect on another positive year for British tourism, here at NPD we are hugely encouraged by the state of the market and the positivity that is spreading throughout the industry.

Operationally our hotels continue to score high annual occupancy figures which is testament to the management and staff we now have on board; the locations we have chosen and the renovations we have and continue to carry out.

My team and I are already preparing for another record breaking year and given the level of interest and number of enquiries we have received in January; the future is looking very bright.

With some exciting hotel opportunities about to come on to the market, 2018 will see us acquire a further 16 hotels which will further strengthen our position in the industry and meet the demands of an ever-increasing number of visitors to the UK.

We look forward to working with you over what is shaping up to be a very positive year.