The latest UKinbound Business Barometer figures have indicated a rise in confidence levels across the tourism industry. The results, compiled by Qa Research and announced at the UKinbound Annual Convention in Glasgow, also revealed that businesses are expecting cultural experiences to top inbound visitors’ to-do lists in 2019.
Business Barometer results
In November and December 2018, 59% of UKinbound members stated that they were confident about business in the upcoming 12 months, the highest rate recorded since September/October 2017. An influx of forward bookings, the value of the pound, and increased interest from North American and Asian markets all contributed to the increase.
81% of respondents reported that bookings/visitor numbers/customer orders were similar or higher compared to November/December 2017, and 88% reported that yield had remained stable or improved compared to 2017 figures.
Looking to 2019, businesses signalled that the number one activity they’re expecting to be the most in demand from inbound tourists are cultural experiences, closely followed by bespoke activities. Luxury goods and retail was ranked 3rd most important, with activity holidays 4th and spa and wellbeing 5th.
Businesses however also stated that the industry does face a number of challenges in 2019, most pressing bing the uncertainty regarding the UK’s future trading relationships with the EU. Staff recruitment and retention, improving the UK’s product offering and offers for visitors, attracting visitors from new markets, and currently fluctuations were also cited as general concerns.
Over the last 12 months, members’ bookings and revenue have improved. In January/February 2018, 56% of members stated that bookings / visitor numbers / customer orders were similar or up on 2017 figures. By November/December 2018 this figure had risen to 81%, compared to the same period in 2017. The warm UK summer, good exchange rate and an increase in Chinese and Japanese visitors all contributed to the improvements.
- Throughout 2018 China and and the US remained the top two growth markets
- Confidence levels fluctuated dropping to an annual low in September/October – just 40% of members were confident about the next 12 months. This rose to an annual high of 59% in November/December
- Less than a third of members felts that over-tourism has a negative impact on their business
- A key challenge for many members continued to be the reduction of available EU workers
Chief Executive Joss Croft commented, “It is encouraging that even with the uncertainty surrounding Brexit, our latest Business Barometer shows that forward bookings are strong and that there is an increase in confidence levels amongst some of our members.
“However, we remain concerned about the Government’s proposed immigration strategy post Brexit which will look to restrict employing EU nationals to those only earning over £30k. Recruitment and retention of staff in the industry is already a challenge – due in part to Brexit, and this proposed restriction could have a real impact on the industry, which relies heavily on its EU employees due to their language and customer service skills.”