The UK tourism industry has fared badly internationally but all that’s about to change

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The UK tourism industry has been badly affected by the negative news that has dogged the UK throughout 2022, leaving the country well behind others in attracting foreign visitors.

Whilst many European countries have seen a return to tourism highs last seen prior to the pandemic, the UK continues to struggle with the number of visitors in 2022 down some 36 per cent.

According to data provided by UNWTO on Monday, December 19, the UK attracted around 41 million visitors in 2019, but this year despite major events like the Queen’s funeral the numbers are struggling to reach 26 million. But VisitBritain is more optimistic in their forecasts suggesting that the number of visitors will be closer to 30 million, a drop of around 27 per cent.

The only countries that are seeing numbers as poor as the UK’s are those that have been affected the war in Ukraine, the one exception being Germany whose visitor numbers are predicted to fall by around 33 per cent.

By comparison Scandinavian countries have seen numbers that are down as little as two per cent, whilst destinations traditionally popular Brits along the Mediterranean have seen numbers drop by less than half that of the UK (Spain down 16.5, France 15 and Portugal 8.6 per cent).

Britain appears to have suffered more than others due in part to a confusing policy over pandemic lockdowns, travel delays, strikes, BREXIT and a change in the type of holidays that international travellers are booking. Continued travel bans in some parts of the East have also affected the UK badly with China, its second-largest market still closed to foreign travel.

The lucrative American market has also seen travellers choosing more exotic destinations and ones closer to home, including the likes of Mexico, as they look to spread their wings after almost two years of travel restrictions.

There is good news though, with VisitBritain forecasting numbers to rise considerably in 2023. Although the volume of visitors is still expected to be down around 14 per cent on 2019 highs, visitor spend is expected to exceed to be up.

That’s good news for an economy in need of a financial boost, as it is for the hospitality industry much of which remains on shorter hours or shuttered.

VisitBritain is also confident that its new ad campaign for 2023 will be successful in attracting both traditional and new visitors to the island’s shores.

VisitBritain CEO Patricia Yates said that the new campaign would encourage travellers to “See Things Differently” with the campaign highlighting the UK as “dynamic, adventurous and inclusive.”

The UK’s Tourism Minister shares VisitBritain’s optimism saying: “It is fantastic to see that tourism is continuing to bounce back strongly after the sector received substantial government support during the pandemic.

“This predicted rise in visitor spending will give a further boost to the industry, helping to create new jobs and drive economic growth across the country.”

After two years of struggle, the UK’s tourism industry is poised to take advantage of the new VisitBritain campaign, as it is the reopening of key markets like China. The country continues to have a lot to offer with many wonderful tourist destinations and many top-class facilities, and according to VisitBritain that’s all about to change, it’s time to look at the country through new eyes.


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Written by

Peter McLaren-Kennedy

Originally from South Africa, Peter is based on the Costa Blanca and is a web reporter for the Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at [email protected]

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