Britain's tourism industry looks to have reached a turning point during the key summer months according to new provisional figures from the International Passenger Survey. VisitBritain, the national tourism agency, commented that the trend we have seen in the summer with increasing numbers of overseas residents choosing to explore Britain is likely to continue to the end of the year, driven by a favourable exchange rate with the euro. VisitBritain forecasts that inbound tourism will help lead Britain's economic recovery during the coming months with modest growth expected in 2010.
The figures show that in the first nine months of 2009 overseas residents made nearly 23 million visits to the UK and spent £12.5 billion. While the number of visits is 8% lower compared to 2008 visitor spending is unchanged thanks to strong growth in how much visitors are spending.
During the vital summer months of July to September 3% more international visitors holidayed in Britain than over the same period in 2008, that is equivalent to 100,000 additional holidaymakers. Taking figures for the first nine months of 2009 indicates that Britain has welcomed more than 9 million holiday visitors, 262,000 more than in 2008.
There are encouraging signs that the North American market is recovering, with 6% growth in total visits during the three months to September, the first quarter to post growth since early 2008. Britain is a great value for money destination for North Americans currently, with the pound being, on average, 13% cheaper against the US dollar in the three months to September than last year.
During the first nine months of this year the EU15 market has proved to be the most resilient for inbound tourism, with a decline in visitor numbers of only 4%, once again a favourable exchange rate has helped to boost holiday visits to Britain from this part of the world. After a number of years of sustained growth 2009 has seen a drop in visits from the twelve EU Accession countries of 23%.
The new figures confirm that challenges remain, with the number of business visitors to Britain down 23% in the first nine months of 2009 to 4.9 million, with an annual decline of 18% in the three months to September.
VisitBritain forecasts that the number of international visitors to Britain will decrease by just over 5% during 2009, but that visitor spending will increase by 1% in nominal terms (by comparison the United Nations World Tourism Organisation expect arrivals across Europe to decline by up to 8%). For 2010 the VisitBritain forecast indicates modest growth in visitor numbers of 1% while visitor spending is expected to increase by nearly 4%.
Tourism supports 2.7 million jobs, up to 200,000 SMEs and is worth £114 billion, according to an independent report by Deloitte. It could be among the first industries to lead the UK out of its recession. Barriers to entering employment in the tourism sector are low, providing a realistic new career for individuals either entering the labour market for the first time or having to search for a new job. Furthermore, adequate investment could deliver an extra 164,000 jobs and a real opportunity to grow to a £133 billion industry by 2018.
For further information, please contact: Mark Di-Toro, Press Officer on +44 (0) 20 7578 1098 or 07919 392 137
VisitBritain is responsible for promoting Britain as a world class tourist destination and for developing the UK's visitor economy. It has representatives in 35 countries around the world and has expanded intoIndia, China, throughout Eastern Europe and Southeast Asia
Overseas residents made 31.9 million visits to the UK in 2008,down by -2.7% on 2007. They spent £16.3 billion, which before adjusting for inflation, rose +2.3% in nominal terms
Every year 17 million visits are made by international consumers to the 46 websites that make up VisitBritain's global family of websites, www.visitbritain.com, which together provide information in 26 different languages.
VisitBritain is a Non-Departmental Public Body whose prime sponsor is the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.