The Britain and Ireland Marketplace (BIM), taking place on 28 January at the O2 Intercontinental and online on 1 February, is posting a record number of attendees despite the number of inbound visitors to the UK suffering a catastrophic fall over the last two years.
In new data issued by the Tourism Alliance, 87% of tour operators have seen a decline of over 50% in their business. Commenting on the data, Tom Jenkins, CEO of ETOA, said, “These figures include outbound travel; the figure for companies who sell to visitors coming into the UK would be loser to 90% suffering a 90% decline. Over the period 2020 – 2021, nearly £50 billion of export earnings have been lost.”
However the record number of bookings – which is 50% higher than pre-Covid levels – received for BIM shows a resilience in the markets, with participants expecting to confirm last minute business for 2022 and place bookings for 2023 at the event.
The event has also received significant levels of support from VisitEngland, Visit Wales, VisitScotland and Tourism Ireland, whose contributions have enabled over 140 tourism suppliers to attend.
They hybrid format will enable BIM to deploy a wide range of buyers and include those who may be unable to attend in person. 170 purchasing managers are expected to attend over the two days, from locations as far afield as California and Shanghai.
Joss Croft, CEO of UKinbound said, “This has been a dire two years for the industry, but I am delighted that so many buyers are attending this joint UKinbound and ETOA event. This gives some guarded optimism both for the coming season and for the recovery in 2023.”