The number of tourists visiting the UK from the fast-growing ‘BRIC’ economies – Brazil, Russia, India and China – is set to leap, according to a new report from VisitBritain.
Visitors from China, for example, are predicted to rise by 89 per cent, bringing just under an extra 100,000 travellers to these shores, by 2014, the fastest increase in tourism to the UK from any country.
The forecast comes in a wide-ranging 60-page analysis of the state and prospects of UK tourism ’Overseas Visitors to Britain, Understanding Trends, Attitudes and Characteristics’’ published today (Monday 13 September).
While the bulk of the increase in tourism to Britain over the next four years will continue to come from the UK’s traditional European and North American markets, the speed with which tourism from the BRICs, where VisitBritain has devoted major efforts, is exciting.
The report connects the increase in Chinese tourism with the growing popularity of English Premier League Games which are drawing weekly audiences of millions in the Far Eastern country. China is just one place in the league table of UK tourism source nations behind Brazil – which is itself expected to send 18 per cent more tourists, (about 35,000 people), to the UK over the same period.
Meanwhile, tourism from India – where Premier David Cameron took a high powered delegation of six Cabinet Ministers this summer – is forecast to grow by 29 per cent, with over 100,000 extra visits. Visitors from Russia are expected to jump by 24 per cent, with 50,000 more people sampling British hospitality.
Although the acceleration among emerging nations is impressive, the largest numbers of new visitors will come from France, Ireland, the USA, Germany and Spain – the UK’s traditional top five markets for visitors. Together they are forecast (1) to send a substantial 3.3 million more visitors to Britain between them by 2014.
Ireland, which was the second largest market in 2008, is expected to fall to fourth in the rankings by 2014 despite 18 per cent growth, while there is expected to be faster growth from the USA (30 per cent) and Germany (29%). France is expected to remain top of the visits league, growing by 12 per cent.
Elsewhere, the report gives a comprehensive overview of the challenges faced by the British tourism industry, outlines latest trends among tourists, delivers a snapshot of what foreign tourists like to do while here and provides forecasts for future growth. The outlook comes after we welcomed 1.2 million fewer American visitors than in the record year of 2000, and that in the first seven months of this year visits from North America were down by 6 per cent.
The report stresses that the forecasts for increased inbound tourism depend on there being no new limits to airport capacity, no new visa regulations, no ‘’external shocks’’ and the continuation of worldwide promotional campaigns by VisitBritain and its strategic partners.
VisitBritain chief executive Sandie Dawe said: ‘’This in-depth research shows that over the next few years the prospects for the UK tourism industry should be positive. Visitor numbers overall were down by 6% last year, due largely to a sharp drop in international business travel. But, thanks to a good deal of hard work, we were still able to grow the inbound holiday tourism market by 5 per cent, outperforming many European competitors. The challenge for Britain is that competition is getting tougher every year and we are not immune from Government demands for savings. But with the aid of the once in a lifetime boost presented by the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games I am confident that we will come through the challenges ahead.’’
The chart below shows which countries are set to be the top 30 source markets for the UK in 2014, with the forecast number of visits to the UK shown by the red dots. The blue bars show the number of visits recorded in 2008.]
Me-ism – Consumers are transforming themselves into brands, constantly revising what they present to the world, particularly online. The stress is away from the group and onto individuality.
Now-ism (2) – Consumers increasingly expect their demands to be met instantly. With travel there is a growing stress on living in the now rather than in the future, trying out new things, dropping formality and collecting endless new experiences.
Authenticity and immersion – travellers have moved away from wanting a service to wanting an experience and will choose their holiday on the basis of how ‘’real’’ or ‘’authentic’ it feels.
‘’Urbany’’ – Urban culture is the culture of today. Consumers are becoming ever more sophisticated and will snap up ‘daring’’ goods, services, experiences and conversations. Urban pride means consumers are tying themselves closely to a city’s brand. For example ATMs in London’s East End dispense cash in Cockney rhyming slang. (page 7).
‘The Rise of the Seniors’- Due to aging populations, the proportion of visitors to Britain aged 55+ has grown in 12 out of the past 15 years, and this should continue. In 2009, for example, 5.4 million over 55s visited Britain from overseas, representing almost one in five of our 29.9 million visitors, compared to one in eight in 1993. In volume terms British nationals are by far the most important source for visits by people in this age group. Over 1.1 million older British ex-pats visited the UK in 2009, but Americans are the next largest contingent. The good news is that by and large the over 55s have a more positive perception of Britain than younger people and they rank the UK third on the list of countries they would visit ‘’if money were no object.’’ (Page 15)
‘Wellbeing Holidays’- Tourists increasingly come to Britain seeking ‘’well-being.’’ Spa visits, spiritual fulfilment and social tourism involving volunteering are increasing as are medical tourism and assorted therapies such as pet therapy, anti-stress therapy, anti-obesity retreats and life quality evaluation. ‘’Wellness has become more than a trend – it has become a need,’’ the report said (Page 10).They want to see Britain’s famous landmarks but they increasingly want to get away from the crowds. Visitors from key British markets such as Germany, Canada, Australia, Italy, Japan, Sweden and the USA no longer see a holiday as a luxury – but a necessity to lead a balanced and healthy lifestyle. Many of the developed nations ranked ‘my career’ as just the 9th highest priority in life and placed ‘’time to relax’’ in their top three. Yet emerging economies such as Argentina, Brazil, China and India all ranked ‘my career’ in their top three life priorities. (Page 19)
‘Pubs go down under’- Going to the Great British Pub rides consistently high on the list of positive perceptions about the UK, the research shows. Visiting one offers the visitor a chance to feel part of an authentic British life – not ‘’just a tourist.’’
Those from New Zealand and Australia are most likely to go to a pub when they visit. British pubs are so renowned in these countries that they have recreated the ‘traditional British pub scene’ there.