UK could expect boost in visits from the United States during Thanksgiving week

16 November 2018

The UK could look forward to a rise in visitors from the United States (US) during Thanksgiving week with flight bookings showing a rise of 20% compared to the same period in 2017. 

Data from ForwardKeys shows flight bookings from the US to the UK are up 20% from Sunday 18 to Saturday 24 November 2018 compared to the week when Thanksgiving fell last year. Thanksgiving Day this year is on Thursday 22 November.

The increase echoes a longer-term trend with forward bookings from the US to the UK tracking up 27% from November 2018 to April 2019 compared to the same period previously. 

The US is the UK’s most valuable inbound visitor market for tourism spend. Visitors from the US spent a record £3.6 billion across the UK last year, up 9% on the previous year. Visits from the US grew 13% to 3.9 million in 2017, the highest since 2000.

VisitBritain Director Patricia Yates said:

“We want the UK to be the number one destination for US travellers so it is great to see forward bookings looking strong in the coming weeks and months from our most valuable visitor market. With our hotels and shops, our visitor attractions and accommodation offering great value for US travellers it is a great time to book a trip.

“Working with partners including American Airlines, British Airways, Norwegian Air and Virgin Atlantic we are boosting route connectivity and seat capacity, making it easier for US visitors to travel and to explore further through regional gateways such as Manchester, driving growth from tourism across our nations and regions.”

VisitBritain is also working with content partners in the US including Refinery29, Matador Network, Food52 and Men in Blazers to promote Britain’s food and drink, culture, countryside and football-related visitor experiences, telling the stories of destinations and inspiring visitors to discover more, travel further and stay longer.

VisitBritain’s global campaign ‘I Travel For…’, launched earlier this year in the US, is also shining the spotlight on unexpected experiences and less explored destinations across the UK alongside its globally renowned and iconic landmarks and attractions, to drive tourism across the nations and regions.

US perceptions of the UK as a visitor destination are strong. The US ranked the UK second overall out of 50 nations for its overall brand in the 2018 Anholt Nation Brands Index, up one place on 2017 and equalling its highest ranking ever. The US also rated the UK highly for its vibrant cities and urban attractions, its historic buildings and monuments.

Tourism is worth £127 billion to the UK economy, creating jobs and boosting economic growth across its nations and regions.


Celebrating Thanksgiving Day:

St Pauls Cathedral, London

Thursday 22 November

The annual Thanksgiving Day service will take place at St Pauls from 11am until 12pm. No tickets are needed to attend the traditional service but visitors are recommended to arrive early as doors close at 10.30am. 

Winter Wonderland, Hyde Park, London

22 November until 06 January 2019

Winter Wonderland opens for the Christmas season this year on Thanksgiving Day from 4pm. The annual attraction is free-to-enter with ice-skating on the UK’s largest outdoor rink, fairground attractions, Christmas markets and plenty of cosy restaurants to indulge in hot drinks and festive treats.

Illuminate Light Festival, Plymouth

22 November until 25 November 2018

Celebrate Thanksgiving Day at the city’s free-to-enter light festival, held at the historic Royal William Yard. The festival sees visual light projections take place with a theme of linking music to light, and visitors can get involved with their own light projects in interactive workshops taking place during the four days. This year also sees artists experiment with light projections onto the sea.

Christmas at Kew Gardens, Richmond, London

22 November until 05 January 2019

Now in its sixth year, Christmas at Kew returns on Thanksgiving Day with a winter trail of twinkling lights to explore. Visitors can also enjoy the sculptural fire garden and a new Laser Garden to watch lights bouncing across the branches. End the evening with warm treats of roasted chestnuts and a hot chocolate under the starry skies.

Ice Skating at the Natural History Museum, London

Open now until 20 January 2019

To celebrate Thanksgiving Day with history, visitors can head to the Natural History Museum and skate against the backdrop of the grand attraction either day or night. Although it is recommended to book tickets to guarantee a place, visitors can buy a ticket at the box office, and warm up with a meal and drink at the Café Bar.