UK’s inbound tourism industry reports positive start to 2024

89% of UK tourism businesses, that service the country’s inbound tourism sector, expect yields in Q1 2024 to be the same or higher than 2023, according to new research by UKinbound.

The results from UKinbound’s Business Barometer member* survey, undertaken by Qa Research, outlined that –

  • 86% of businesses expect booking/visitor numbers to be the same or higher in Q1 2024 compared to 2023
  • The US continues to be the largest growth market
  • 73% are confident about the impending 12 months, the lowest confidence level recorded in a year but higher than the 60% from January 2023

When ask to review the biggest barriers to growth in 2024, almost 2/3 (65%) of businesses stated rising costs, while just under half (41%) cited staff recruitment and retention.

Joss Croft OBE, CEO of UKinbound said “We are delighted that our members are reporting this positive start to 2024. 2023 was a superb year of growth for the industry and at the moment we can confidently forecast that this trend will continue, which is very welcome news for tourism businesses up and down the country and the skilled people they employ.

“However, we are poised for a year of change with the introduction of the Electronic Travel Authorisation, the European Travel Information and Authorisation System and the European Entry/Exit system, all alongside a likely general election.

“We firmly have in our sight a range of policy changes, that if rolled out could further expediate the UK’s growth, from launching a new tax-free shopping scheme for international visitors to expanding the list of countries (in addition to France) that we allow students under the age of 18 from to use their ID Card, rather than a passport, to visit the UK.

“However, as highlighted by our members, rising costs and staff recruitment and retention are real concerns, which is why we’re additionally pushing for a new low-cost visa for international visitors, along with changes to the salary threshold for international workers here in the UK.”

In 2024 it is forecast that 39.5 million international visitors will visit the UK, spending £34.1 billion. This is 97% and 120% of 2019 levels respectively, but spending would be 96% if adjust for inflation. Compared to 2023, this represents growth of 5% in visits and 7% in nominal spend (4% in real spend). (Source: VisitBritain)