RSS Feed

Related Articles

Related Categories

How is Brexit affecting UK tourism?

23rd August 2017 Print

It has been over a year since the British public decided that the country will make its way out of the European Union. But how has this affected Brits touring abroad and they ways that people from abroad come to the UK? 

Staycation, the new way to holiday

From the Travel Trends report carried out by ABTA in 2017, it was revealed that the amount of holidays in the UK increased from 64% (2015) to 71% (2016).

Barclays also carried out the Destination UK report, which has shown a rise in ‘staycations’. This has been revealed from the fact that more than a third of adults across the UK are choosing to holiday closer to home this year – not because of financial reasons, but because of personal preference. Lycetts, a provider of insurance for arcades as well as cover for many other types of tourism attractions, have found out the main reasons as to why people are spending more time closer to home:

- 34% cited choice as a main reason, stating ‘I would like to spend more time in the UK’.

- 32% cited cost as a main reason, stating ‘holidays in the UK are now more affordable’.

- 23% cited experience as a main reason, stating ‘I enjoyed a recent UK holiday and so am keen to replicate this’.

- 15% cited the number of activities available as a main reason, stating ‘there are more holiday activities in the UK than there were in the past’.

- 14% cited time as a main reason, stating ‘I have less time than I have had previously to holiday abroad’.

From over 2,000 British holidaymakers questioned in the Barclays report, 40% said that they were planning a holiday within the UK. 37% responded by stating that they would prefer to visit and stay in a rural location.

Here are the top regions for domestic holidays within the UK:

- 30% of respondents planning to visit the South West.

- 22% planning to visit Scotland.

- 20% planning to visit Wales.

- 20% planning to visit Yorkshire and Humberside.

- 18% planning to visit London.

The Destination UK report has said that the rise in staycations is benefiting the British economy – people are spending at home rather than somewhere abroad. The average visitor taking a trip within the UK spends an average of £309 on accommodation throughout their staycation, as well as £152 on eating out, £121 on shopping and £72 on holiday parks - if that is part of their domestic getaway.

Are Brits wanting to go abroad?

As always, there are people who are still wanting to holiday abroad even though we can see a clear increase in staycations.

The ABTA report found out that for overseas holidays, early bookings increased by 11% throughout summer 2017 – beating last year’s figures. People are wanting to gain new experiences in their life, and this is what is capturing a UK holidaymaker’s attention. 26% of all holidaymakers have said that they are very likely to visit a country that they’ve never been to before, while 29% said they will seek out a holiday to a new resort or city even if they have been to the country in the past. 

Are people coming to the UK?

With a lot of Brits staying for holidays within the UK, can we see more people wanting to come to Britain from abroad too? There’s plenty of evidence to suggest so.

60% of 7,000 people surveyed in the Destination UK report said that they are interested in seeing different parts of the UK than they were 12 months ago. 97 per cent also responded that they would like to see the UK in person, either in the coming months or at least some point in the future.

The top 5 popular regions in the UK for international travellers are: 

- 67% of respondents planning to visit London.

- 44% planning to visit Scotland.

- 29% planning to visit Wales.

- 24%planning to visit Northern Ireland.

- 17%planning to visit Yorkshire and Humberside.

Regardless of where visitors from around the world are visiting in the UK, it still equates to them spending money in the UK. This is because a survey conducted as part of the Barclays Destination UK report found that the average spend on accommodation by this group to be £667, along with £453 on shopping and £339 on food and drink.

£2.7 billion in January and February 2017 alone has been spent by international visitors. This has shown a rise of 11% compared to 2016’s figures over the same two months.

“These figures show that 2017 is off to a cracking start for inbound tourism, one of our most valuable export industries. Britain is offering great value for overseas visitors and we can see the success of our promotions in international markets. We must continue to build on our message of welcome and value in our high spending markets such as China, the US and the valuable European market,” Patricia Yates, director of VisitBritain, responded.

Why are people wanting to visit the UK rather than other countries around the world? VisitBritain’s How The World Views Britain — 2016 report can go a long way to answering this, first through their UK ranking for NBI dimensions and attributes:



UK rank in 2016



Rich in historic buildings & monuments


Vibrant city life & urban attractions


Would like to visit if money was no object


Rich in natural beauty




Interesting & exciting for contemporary culture


Excels at sport


Has a rich cultural heritage



Gathered by VisitBritain, here are some associations that international tourists think of when planning to travel to the UK:

Top 5: Tourism word associations

1. Educational – 34 per cent

2. Fascinating – 31 per cent

3. Exciting – 30 per cent

4. Romantic – 16 per cent

5. Relaxing – 16 per cent

Top 10: Cultural products associations

1. Museums – 47 per cent

2. Films – 39 per cent

3. Music – 39 per cent

4. Sports – 36 per cent

5. Pop videos – 29 per cent

6. Modern design – 29 per cent

7. Opera – 24 per cent

8. Sculpture – 24 per cent

9. Street carnival – 15 per cent

10. Circus – 13 per cent

Top visitor attractions in the UK

As most of the associations are attractions within the UK, it stands to reason that we will also see an increase in the use of them. This will not only be because of international travellers, but also because of the increase in staycations.

Visitor numbers at UK attractions has increased by 7.2% since 2015, if the results from ALVA are anything to go on. London’s attractions proved most popular — just under 70,000,000 people visited London attractions last year, which is more than the UK’s entire population. Although many other popular spots also recorded healthy tourism figures upwards of 1 million tourists…



Part of the UK

Total visits in 2016

British Museum



National Gallery



Tate Modern



Natural History Museum (South Kensington)



Southbank Centre



Somerset House



Science Museum



Victoria and Albert Museum (South Kensington)



Tower of London



Royal Museums Greenwich



National Portrait Gallery



Chester Zoo



Kew Gardens



Westminster Abbey



National Museum of Scotland



Edinburgh Castle



Royal Albert Hall



Scottish National Gallery



St Paul's Cathedral



British Library



Old Royal Naval College






Royal Academy



Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum



Riverside Museum



Roman Baths & Pump Room



ZSL London Zoo



RHS: Garden Wisley



Tate Britain



The Royal Shakespeare Theatre & Swan Theatre



Imperial War Museum



Eden Project




“Many of our members in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and Cornwall had record years in 2016, although the first nine months of 2016 were unquestionably hard for our members, particularly in London, for many reasons. However, by the end of the year nearly all attractions were reporting growth from visitors from overseas and the rest of the UK,” ALVA’s director Bernard Donoghue said.

ABTA: Success after Brexit for travel & tourism

Tourism culture is proving to be healthy in Britain at the moment. As the UK’s exit from the EU edges ever nearer though, will this remain to be seen? ABTA hopes so by asking the government to focus on five key points in the country’s Brexit negotiations:

1. Maintaining our ability to travel freely within Europe and beyond — this includes ensuring that UK airlines can continue to fly and also protecting rail, road and sea routes alike.

2. Keeping visa-free travel between the UK and the EU — so to maintain both fast and efficient processes through the country’s airports and ports.

3. Protecting valuable consumer rights — this takes into account mobile roaming fees in Europe still being abolished and ensuring UK travellers have continued access to either free or reduced cost medical treatment, wherever they are in Europe through the European Health Insurance Cards scheme.

4. Giving UK businesses operational stability — such as retaining access to employment markets and continuing to look into tax and border issues.

5. Seizing opportunities for growth — for example, reducing Air Passenger Duty, cutting visa costs and working towards world-class connectivity.

“We want to work with the Government to help make Brexit as successful as possible” was the response from ABTA’s chief executive Mark Tanzer.