Welcome is an important factor in holiday decision making for those planning a trip outside their own country. Whilst perhaps not the headline pull of heritage, culture or attractions, perceptions of the welcome tourists receive when in Britain are significant. We also know receiving a good welcome is strongly linked to overall enjoyment of a visit to Britain and being likely to recommend visiting a destination to others.
From 22 May we will be working to update all of the data and documents on this page following the Office of National Statistics (ONS) revision of the International Passenger Survey (IPS) data for 2009-2018 and the released detailed 2019 data. Please be patient as we update these pages or contact the VisitBritain research team if you have any questions- VB/VEResearch@visitbritain.org. Thank you.
VisitBritain therefore monitors perceptions of Britain’s welcome in key markets around the world to understand both what people think and why. We also track the actual level of welcome visitors report they experience in Britain.
From the Anholt-Ipsos Nation Brands Index (NBI) we know perceptions of the UK are generally positive. This annual global study looks at the views of 1,000 people in each of 20 panel markets and ranks 50 nations on 23 attributes. These are people who have not necessarily visited the UK but are representative of the online population in their countries, and of course perceptions are key to holiday destination choices.
Welcome is one of four aspects (out of the twenty three) for which the UK is ranked outside the top ten. Although still within the upper half of nations Welcome is an area of relative weakness for us, especially when compared to other factors relating to Tourism or Culture. In 2020 the UK was ranked 11th out of 50 destinations for Welcome whilst the UK came 3rd for Tourism and 3rd for Culture. The UK’s Welcome rank has ranged between 10th in 2013 and 16th in 2019 over the last thirteen years.
|NBI ranking for UK per year||'08||'09||'10||'11||'12||'13||'14||'15||'16||'17||'18||'19||'20|
|If visited, the people would make me feel very welcome||14||13||13||12||13||10||13||11||12||13||15||16||11|
Behind these headline Welcome ranks for the UK we also know welcome varies by visitor market. For example amongst respondents from Australia, Canada, India and the USA, the UK is in the top five; for some visitor markets, the UK’s rank is in the lower half of the table, down to 40th.
In the 2017 NBI VisitBritain explored the various elements of a holiday welcome which will be influential before the trip, during the planning stages and other elements experienced on holiday. These elements were:
|Before a holiday||During a holiday|
|Easy visa application||Convenient opening times||Ease of getting around|
|Exciting and interesting culture||Signs/information in my language||Clean streets|
|Tolerant of diversity||Positive interaction with locals||Smiling faces|
|Accommodating of tourists||Helpful hotel staff||Authentic experiences|
|Perception of people in the country||Friendly service in restaurant||Familiar comforts|
|Country's image in the media/news||Stress-free airport experience||Friendly staff at border|
|Country's image in literature, film and TV||Food that appeals to me|
The results show welcome is composed of many elements and all of these are important –with no one single element standing out. At the top of the list for feelings of welcome are holiday destinations that are seen as “accommodating of tourists”, followed by the ease of getting around the destination once they have arrived. The ease of getting a visa also ranks highly. These all speak to the traveller’s desire to have an easy, hassle-free experience before and during their holiday. The broader image of the country, whether in the media/news or in literature/film/TV, was less important than the other aspects of Welcome, although were still rated as very or quite important by most respondents.
To explore all of the welcome aspects in more detail, including analysis by market, the full NBI welcome report can be downloaded here (PDF, 0.6MB).
VisitBritain sponsors a number of questions each year on the International Passenger Survey to gain a greater understanding of Britain’s visitors. In 2017 VisitBritain added a sponsored question to ask departing visitors how welcome they felt in the UK as they ended their trip to head home or onto their next destination. Visitors were asked to rate the experience of Welcome on a five point scale where 5 was the most positive (felt extremely welcome in Britain) and 1 the least positive (felt not at all welcome).
As noted above with perceptions, there are differences in levels of Welcome, by market. Among all markets there were very few who felt unwelcome during their trip to Britain. However, there were a few nations where there are lower levels of strong welcome – such as Portugal, Singapore, Hong Kong, Qatar and China. In terms of nations who felt most welcome during their stay, Brazil, USA, Oman, Russia and Poland have the highest proportion who felt ‘very welcome’.
Welcome was felt most strongly amongst those visiting friends and relatives, followed by those on holiday in Britain. Business visitors and those visiting for study were less likely to feel a strong sense of welcome during their visit to Britain.
More detailed information by market, on experiences of Welcome can be found in our Visitor Experience report (PDF, 1.0MB) Published November 2020.
As well as the level of welcome, VisitBritain also included a sponsored question about the likelihood of departing visitors to recommend a visit to the UK to friends and family.
When asked on departure, 82% visitors said they were ‘extremely likely’ to recommend a visit to the UK to their friends and family, while a further 15% said they were ‘likely’ to recommend a visit. The combined positive intention to recommend equates to 97%, a very favourable result overall. Furthermore, the views of friends and family are among the most important influences / inspirations when choosing a holiday. Please visit our understanding international visitor page for more information on visitors the planning and decision making cycle.
Through the IPS visitors were also asked about their satisfaction with four main trip elements: attractions & activities, public transport, food & drink and value for money – findings from this research are included in the full Visitor Experience report (PDF, 1.0MB) Published November 2020
During 2015, in the same CAA survey we asked leisure visitors how different trip elements met their expectations. Encouragingly the UK’s quality of tourist attractions, at least met expectations for the overwhelming majority of visitors (98%). Similarly high results were recorded for the friendliness of British people (98%) and overall 99% enjoyed their visit to the UK – over half said their enjoyment expectations were exceeded.
Providing signs and information in visitors’ own languages fell below expectations for almost four in ten from non-English-speaking markets.