The preliminary IPS figures for 2018 have been released. They suggest inbound visitor numbers were down by 4% overall last year while spending was down by 7%. In the main categories of holiday, business and VFR travel numbers were down by 2 – 3% but the biggest decline, (16%), came in the miscellaneous category which includes short-term study.
In terms of where visitors are coming from, there appears to have been a pretty even decline of around 4% from most countries, although the North American market was static and the Non-EU European market declined by 12%.
These figures are particularly disappointing considering that the pound remained historically low against both the US dollar and the euro. With the state of the pound you would normally expect revenue to have increased by about 4-5%. A 7% drop therefore indicates that other factors were at work. While concerns over Brexit might have impacted visitor numbers from Europe, other factors such as the global economic slowdown and the trade war between the US and China/Europe might have impacted other markets. This said, the UK seems to have fared much worse than its international competitors.
Conversely, expenditure by UK residents taking overseas trips increased by 2.2% in 2018, which indicates that despite the uncertainty, people are still willing to spend on holidays abroad.
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