New forecasts suggest that UK tourism is set for a sluggish recovery from Covid-19, even with restrictions set to disappear entirely in the coming weeks. A VisitBritain report suggests spending by UK holidaymakers could fall by close to 50% this year compared to two years ago. The drop in spending among foreign tourists in Britain is forecast to drop by over 75% compared to 2019.
This equates to an arduous recovery for UK tourism despite many being desperate to take a break and the soaring popularity of staycations. Officials from VisitBritain and VisitEngland will meet up with industry leaders to discuss ways to aid the recovery of UK tourism after what has been an unprecedented year for domestic and international travel.
Spending predicted to be down by billions of pounds
According to forecasts made in the report, domestic tourism for 2021 will be worth just over £51 billion this year, compared to over £91 billion in 2019. Likewise, spending by foreign tourists is predicted to reach just over £6 billion this year compared to over £28 billion two years ago.
The pandemic saw the domestic tourism industry shrink by two-thirds last year as the nation went through a series of lockdowns and severe restrictions were imposed on domestic travel. The pandemic resulted in enormous losses for the tourism industry, impacting the economy as a whole.
However, there is some good news from the report as demand for UK holidays is expected to outweigh supply. While the figures may look bleak, vast numbers of people are choosing to take holidays within the UK this year despite being able to travel to some overseas destinations.
Many people are not yet confident enough to consider international travel, even when they have received one or both Covid vaccinations. In addition, the list of countries on the green list is still limited. Many are preferring to play it safe and holiday within the UK rather than book a trip abroad that may have to be cancelled further down the line.
Recovery vital to the economy
British Tourist Authority chairman Lord Patrick McLoughlin said the recovery of domestic tourism in the UK was vital for both the tourism industry and the broader economy. According to Lord McLoughlin, measures such as the VAT cut for hospitality, the furlough scheme, and the business rates holiday helped keep the industry afloat during the past year.
He said, "Tourism is a critical industry for our country, delivering jobs and economic growth across the nations and regions and strengthening our place on the world stage." He added, "We will continue to work with the UK government as it sets out its recovery plan and ambitions for tourism, and across the industry, to cement the recovery and the future of one of this country's greatest industries."
The tourism agency has launched a £5 million campaign designed to increase demand for domestic holidays and travel even further. The campaign, called ‘Escape the Everyday – Enjoy the UK this Summer', will have a strong focus on cities across the UK and areas that have suffered the most from the drop in international tourism.