International Tourists Can Revive UK Cities

UKinbound and seven leading tourism bodies* have written to the Prime Minister to highlight that the survival and recovery of over 200,000 city tourism and hospitality businesses they represent is dependent on international travellers returning to the 69 cities located across the UK.

The letter outlined that city restaurants, bars, hotels, shops, theatres, visitor attractions and inbound tour operators and intermediaries – who bring in over 50% (Source: VisitBritain) of all international visitors to the UK and arrange for them to visit cities across the country – will struggle to remain profitable and viable if international visitors do not return this year.

An international visitor to the UK will spend an average of £696 during their trip (Source: ONS), however an average domestic tourist will spend just over a third of this, £239 (Source: Great British Tourism Survey).

The British public would need to take an additional 55.8 million overnight leisure trips this year to make up for the lack of international visitors; however, VisitBritain has forecast that spending on domestic holidays in the UK in 2021 will drop by 33%, compared to 2019.

Alongside stressing the need to safely welcome back international visitors to the UK via a risk-based approach, the letter included three key asks of the Prime Minister and Government –

  • Fluid, easy access to the UK for inbound visitors from green countries
  • A cost-effective testing system, including the removal of VAT
  • Funds for VisitBritain to start international marketing of the UK abroad ASAP

Joss Croft, CEO, UKinbound said “As we progress from Step 2 to Step 3 in the reopening roadmap it is critical that cities are not left behind as the country moves forward with recovery. We can’t rely on domestic tourism to make up for the short fall and spend of international visitors, especially in our cities.

“As we forge ahead with a new Global Britain post Brexit, the success of cities across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will be vital. We face the prospect of boarded up shops and restaurants, and the vibrant heart and soul of our cities disappearing if international visitors and their vital revenue doesn’t return.”

Inbound tourism to the UK is worth £31.4 billion in export earnings to the economy annually.

*The letter was signed by Airlines UKAssociation of International RetailCities RestartNew West End CompanyNorthern Ireland Tourism AllianceRoad Haulage Association CoachesTourism Alliance and UKinbound.