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Great Britain is ready for tourism boom in 2022

Can city breaks compensate for the shortfall in business travelers?
Can city breaks compensate for the shortfall in business travelers?
Written by Harry Johnson

The reopening of travel between the UK, Europe and the US will offer hope for inbound tourism’s recovery – especially as 2022 will see a tremendous global opportunity for the UK.

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Destinations, suppliers and attractions in the UK are set to see a sustained recovery in 2022, thanks to inbound and domestic holidaymakers’ keenness to explore the British Isles, reveals research released today (Monday 1 November) at WTM London.

About one in six Brits (16%) say they plan to book a 2022 staycation – despite widespread demand for foreign holidays as overseas travel is likely to recover in 2022 – while international travel buyers at WTM London are eager to seal deals for UK products.

The findings, from the WTM Industry Report, will be a welcome boost for UK exhibitors at WTM London, who will be keen to capitalize on the popularity of domestic tours and the pent-up demand for overseas visitors to return to Britain.

The figures come from two polls commissioned by WTM London – the first quizzed 1,000 consumers and found that 843 are planning to take a holiday in 2022. About a sixth (17%) of these say they will take a staycation.

The second survey spoke to 676 trade professionals and found that more than half (58%) are interested in contracting UK products at WTM London 2021, if they attend. The breakdown of figures showed that 38% were ‘extremely interested’ and 20% were ‘interested’.

When asked about particular destinations or regions, London was the most popular, but a wide range of others were also mentioned by respondents, including other parts of England (such as Devon, Cornwall, Kent and Manchester) plus Scotland, Ireland and Wales.

A wide range of exhibitors with interests and products in the UK will be at ExCeL – London for the WTM London this week (Monday 1 – Wednesday 3 November), including tourism association European Tour Operators’ Association; coach hire firm Abbey Travel; Dover District Council, which represents White Cliffs Country; London and UK tours specialist Golden Tours; and Merlin Attractions, which has a host of sites in the UK, such as Legoland Windsor, Alton Towers Resort, Warwick Castle, Madame Tussauds and the London Eye.

Merlin Attractions’ own research shows that consumers in the US and UK are ready to return to theme park adventures “in their droves” because of the ‘JOLA’ phenomenon – the Joy of Looking Ahead.

After a difficult couple of years, families and groups increasingly want to book ahead in order to look forward to an outing and to spend time together, according to the attractions giant.

VisitBritain has forecast a slow recovery ahead, with a lot of ground to catch up after two years of highly restricted inbound travel.

It estimates that overseas visitor spending in the UK in 2021 was just £5.3 billion, compared to £28.4 billion in 2019.

Inbound trade association UKinbound has lobbied ministers throughout the pandemic to highlight the plight of its members, many of whom saw revenues plunge by 90% or more.

However, the reopening of travel between the UK, Europe and the US will offer hope for inbound tourism’s recovery – especially as 2022 will see a tremendous global opportunity for the UK. It will host and celebrate the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, Festival UK 2022 and the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.

Simon Press, WTM London Exhibition Director, said: “The findings suggests there will be brisk trading for the UK exhibitors at WTM this year – they will be keen to take advantage of the renewed interest in domestic breaks among the British market as well as making the most of deals to be struck with international buyers, who are eager to reconnect with suppliers after the hiatus in holidays to the UK.”

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About the author

Harry Johnson

Harry Johnson has been the assignment editor for eTurboNews for almost 20 years. He lives in Honolulu, Hawaii, and is originally from Europe. He enjoys writing and covering the news.

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