The big picture
Tourism is one of the largest industries in the UK.
According to a recent Deloitte study 'The Economic Contribution of the Visitor Economy – UK and the nations' tourism was worth £115.4bn to the UK economy in 2009 once the direct and indirect impacts are taken into account, equivalent to 8.9% of UK Gross Domestic Product.
Tourism contributes £96.7bn to the economy in England (8.6% of GDP), £11.1bn in Scotland (10.4%), £6.2bn in Wales (13.3%) and £1.5bn in Northern Ireland (4.9%).
The Deloitte study found that tourism would account for a similar proportion of the overall UK economy in 2020 as it did in 2008 (8.8%).
The number of jobs that tourism supports is forecast to increase by 250,000 between 2010 and 2020, from 2.645 million to 2.899 million.
One in twelve jobs in the UK is currently either directly or indirectly supported by tourism.
The long-run GVA growth rate of the visitor economy is forecast to be 3.5% per annum over the period 2010 to 2020, well ahead of the 2.9% forecast for the economy as a whole.
Tourism expenditure is forecast to grow at an annual real growth rate of 3.0% per annum over the period 2010 to 2020 according to Deloitte, with spending by inbound visitors forecast to grow at a faster rate than spending by domestic residents (4.4% versus 2.6%).
Tourism is the UK’s sixth highest export earner, with inbound visitors spending more than £18bn annually and contributing over £3bn to the Exchequer.
The ‘direct’ effect of spending by tourists is estimated at just under £100bn in 2012, as can be seen in the table below.
In the 2012 Anholt GfK Nations Brand Index the UK retained 3rd place as a 'nation brand' behind the USA and Germany.
The UK ranked 4th out of 50 in terms of a 'Tourism' brand. Our strongest 'Tourism' dimensions are for our 'vibrant city life and urban attractions', ranked 4th in the world and being 'rich in historic buildings and monuments', ranked 5th in the world. Post Games the UK saw improvements in image, read more.
Inbound Tourism to the UK
The 31.3 million overseas visitors who came to the UK in 2012 spent £18.6 billion. These figures represent a 1% increase in volume and 4% (nominal) increase in value compared with 2011.
In 2012 the UK ranked eighth in the UNWTO international tourist arrivals league behind France, USA, China, Spain, Italy, Turkey and Germany (down two places from sixth which the UK held in the years to 2010, with Turkey in 2010 and Germany in 2011 over-taking the UK). The UK accounted for 2.8% of global arrivals (down slightly from 3.0% in 2011).
In 2012 the UK retained eighth place in the international tourism earnings league (in recent years the UK's highest rank was fifth in 2005 and 2006) behind the USA, Spain, France, China, Italy, Macao and Germany according to UNWTO figures.
The UK accounted for 3.4% of international tourism receipts in 2012 (little change from 3.5% in 2011, 3.3% in 2010).
In 2012 France, Germany and the USA were the top three markets in terms of number of visits to the UK accounting for nearly one-in-three visits. The top three markets measured in terms of visitor spend were USA, France and Germany, accounting for over one-quarter of visitor spend.
London accounts for 54% of all inbound visitor spend, the rest of England 33%, Scotland 8% and Wales 2%.
A separate page is dedicated to covering key Inbound Tourism Facts
GB Domestic Overnight Tourism
In 2012 GB residents took:
- 57.7 million holidays of one night or more spending £13.8 billion
- 18.9 million overnight business trips spending £4.5 billion
- 45.1 million overnight trips to friends and relatives spending £5.1 billion
Overall the number of domestic overnight trips taken in 2012 was 1% lower than in 2011, while total spending increased by 6% in nominal terms. For detailed GBTS data see the VisitEngland website.
In 2012, average room occupancy for all serviced accommodation throughout the UK was 66% (up 2 percentage points from 2011) according to the UK Occupancy Survey. Average bedspace occupancy was 50% (an increase of 2 percentage points on 2011).
According to Eurostat the number of bedspaces (that is the total number of persons who can stay) in UK 'hotels and similar establishments' was 1,411,000 in 2011.
Furthermore, Eurostat estimate that the number of bedspaces in 'other collective accommodation establishments' (including holiday dwellings and tourist campsites) in the UK was 1,861,000 in 2011.
In total therefore the UK has a tourist accommodation 'bedspace' stock capable of sleeping around 3.272 million people.
Figures from TRI Hospitality Consulting confirm that one of the biggest changes in the UK accommodation stock in the past two decades has been the increasing number of branded budget hotel rooms. In 1993 there were 10,555 such rooms whereas at the end of 2010 there were 114,974.
The table to the right shows the top five attractions in terms of visitor admissions in 2012 based on figures from the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions.
In 2009 the number of inbound visitors who visited a museum was 7.7 million, with 4.2 million visiting an art gallery. Visiting heritage attractions is also a very popular activity for inbound visitors with 5.8 million visiting a castle, 5 million visiting historic houses and 6.4 million visiting religious buildings or monuments. Read more