Inbound visits to the North East were up by 22%, and spend up 26%
The North West saw a 6% increase in visits and a 9% increase in spend
The East Midlands and West Midlands saw growth in visits up 10% and 8% respectively
The East of England saw visits grow by 4%
Visits were up in the South East by 11%, and in the South West by 8%
Flying successes, improved connections
Better availability and access to direct flights for international visitors undoubtedly contributed to 2015’s record-breaking inbound tourism results with seat capacity to the UK rising 5%. What’s more, Air Passenger Duty for the under-12s was scrapped in May 2015, and for under-16s in May 2016, reducing ticket cost for families and making Britain an even more attractive as a travel destination.
2016 is set to see these figures continue to rise as new routes opened up, including direct flights between Beijing and Manchester four times a week from June 2016. The development of regional connections like this will enable Britain’s tourism industry as a whole to take advantage of the world’s most valuable outbound market. Last year China generated £586 million in visitor spend last year alone, accompanied by a sharp increase in visitor spend from other long haul destinations including Oman, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the UAE.
Rising to the challenge of global competition
Britain is the sixth most desirable country to visit if money were no object, according to 2015’s Anholt Nations Brand Index. However, despite 2015’s promising figures, a number of Britain’s markets still have some way to go to claim true recovery from 2008/09’s recession. For example, despite 10% more inbound volume, Britain is yet to reach the same levels of visits from the US that it enjoyed in 2000.
What’s more, even though the UK welcomed 270,000 visitors from China in 2015 (a 46% increase on 2014), Britain’s inbound Chinese visitor numbers were markedly smaller than those from other key destinations – including Western Europe, America, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.
However, as of August 2016, the UK was 20% cheaper for visitors from the Eurozone and 19% cheaper for visitors from the USA compared to a year before. Sterling’s falling value against the dollar and euro establishes Britain as an attractive option for tourists looking to maximise what they get for their money, bringing their holiday pounds here and benefitting the British economy.