The latest provisional International Passenger Survey results have been released for March 2019, showing year-on-year declines in both visit volume and spend for both Q1 2019 and for the rolling 12-month period to March.
Business visits saw a resurgence in March and reached a new record for the month, but along with the VFR and Miscellaneous categories, numbers for these journey purposes are still in decline over the longer term.
Visits from the EU15 markets continued to decline over the longer term, however visits from Other EU markets reached a new record for March. Visits from the Rest of Europe saw the largest year-on-year growth at 31% to become the second-highest March on record for this market. Results for North America were also positive, posting the highest number of visits from this market for any Q1 since 2006.
- The UK welcomed 2.9 million overseas visits in March 2019, down 2% on March 2018
- Between January and March 2019 7.8 million visits were made, 1% below the number of inbound visits made in the same period in 2018.
- Overseas visits in the 12 months to March 2019 were 3% behind on the previous year at 37.8 million visits.
- Inbound visitors spent £1.65 billion in March this year, 8% behind the record breaking March 2018.
- Spending is also down in the first three months of 2019, with visitors spending 5% less than Q1 2018 at £4.3 billion.
- In the 12 months to March 2019 spending by overseas visitors was down 8% at £22.7 billion compared to the previous 12-month period.
- Spend per visit also decreased, with visitors spending £600 on average per visit in the 12 months to March 2019, down 5% year-on-year.
- Holiday visits were down 1% year-on-year in March to reach 1.1 million, marking the first time holiday visits have dropped in 2019. With more positive results in January and February, holiday visits in the first three months of the year were up 7% compared to the same period in 2018, reaching just under 2.7 million visits. In the 12 months to March 2019, holiday visits were up 2% year-on-year totalling 15.3 million.
- VFR (visits to family and friends) were down 5% year-on-year for both March 2019 and for the Q1 period at 860,000 visits and 2.5 million visits respectively. In the 12 months to March 2019 VFR is tracking 3% behind the previous 12 months at 11.6 million visits.
- Business visits reached a new record for March with 840,000 visits – up 2% year-on-year. However figures are still 4% down for Q1 2019 compared to Q1 2018 at just over 2 million, and for the 12-month period to March 2019 business visits are 5% down at 8.3 million.
- Miscellaneous journeys (a wide range of journey purposes including – but not limited to – short term study, job seeking, shopping, attending a sports event and more) were down 7% compared to March 2018 at 190,000 visits. For the 3 months to March 2019 these visits were down by 11% compared to the previous year at 520,000. For the 12 months to March 2019 miscellaneous journeys saw the largest decline of all journey purposes, down 15% on the previous 12 months at just over 2.5 million visits.
- Visits from all EU markets were down 3% year-on-year in March 2019 at just under 2.1 million visits, and down 1% for the January – March period at 5.4 million visits. For the 12 months to March 2019 visits from all EU markets was down 2% year-on-year at 24.7 million visits.
- Visits from EU15 markets were down 5% in March 2019 compared to 2018 at 1.6 million visits, and down 2% for Q1 2019 at just under 4.2 million visits. Over the longer term visits from the EU15 markets were also down 2% for the 12 months to March 2019 at just over 19.8 million visits.
- Visits from Other EU markets grew 3% year-on-year to reach 480,000 visits, setting a new record for March. Visits from this market were up 4% for the January – March period at 1.2 million visits, and for the 12-months to March 2019 were on par with the previous year at 4.9 million.
- Visits from the Rest of Europe saw the largest growth at 31% with 200,000 visits, the second highest on record for March. Visits from the Rest of Europe were up 4% in the first three months of the year compared to the same period in 2018 at 450,000. However with only 3 of the past 12 months showing positive results for this market, numbers were down 7% year-on-year for the 12 months to March 2019 at 2.2 million.
- Visits from North America grew 9% in March to reach 320,000 visits, while visits during Q1 2019 were up 5% year-on-year to reach 810,000 – the highest Q1 result for North America since 2006. However, with 5 of the past 12 months showing year-on-year declines, visits during this period were on par with the previous 12-month period at 4.7 million.
- Visits from the Rest of the World dropped by 15% in March 2019 with 330,000 visits. A longer term view shows a sustained decline, with a 9% year-on-year drop in the January to March period with 1.1 million visits, and a 5% decline in the rolling 12 months to March 2019 at just over 6 million visits, compared to the previous 12-month period.
The full summary report from VisitBritain can be downloaded at the link below.