Tourism sector given further boost by weaker pound

Record numbers of tourists are expected to visit the UK this year, as overseas holiday-makers make the most of the slump in value of the pound brought about by Brexit and the UK’s political turmoil. 
According to the latest forecast by VisitBritain*, the number of overseas tourists is expected to increase 6 per cent year-on-year in 2017 to 39.7 million, while visitor spending is set to increase 14 per cent to £25.7 billion.
The forecast of a 6 per cent increase in inbound visits is a slightly faster rate of growth than that seen in the last several years and, if realised, would be the fastest since 2006.
Whilst visitors to Britain are getting better value for money due to the pound’s depreciation, British Tourist Authority chairman Steve Ridgway warns that tourism, which is worth £127 billion annually to the economy, is a competitive sector and the weaker currency alone won’t be enough to keep the tourists flocking.
“Tourism is a fiercely competitive global industry and you cannot just build a strong, resilient industry on a weaker currency,” Mr Ridgway explains.
“We must continue to invest in developing world-class tourism products, getting Britain on the wish-list of international and domestic travellers and we must make it easy for visitors to make that trip.”
Meanwhile, Tourism Minister John Glen says: “Tourism contributes billions to the UK economy and supports millions of jobs”, adding that the record figures for overseas and “staycation” holidaymakers are “testament to our world-class attractions and the innovation of our tourism industry”.
Similarly, data released this week by Visa and IHS Markit* shows that hotels and restaurants saw an increase in spending of 3.5 per cent in September as a result of the rise in UK tourism.
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* VisitBritain 2017 inbound tourism forecast
** Visa’s UK Consumer Spending Index, October 9 2017, compiled by IHS Markit