International Passenger Survey 2017 data now available

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We have added the summary detail for the International Passenger Survey 2017 to the research & statistics library.  The entry references both the Office for National Statistic (ONS) and the VisitBritain’s (VB’s) summaries as they feature different aspects of headline data and combined will give a fuller strategic overview.  They can be found in the main library in date order or as a separate page entry at:

Kurt Janson Director at the Tourism Alliance provided his members with the following initial commentary on the IPS data which colleagues may find useful when trying to quickly interpret the headline figures.  Note these are not ONS or VB interpretations which may well differ, if and when they are published later in the year, once all the revisions are made:

  • It was a record year for tourism to the UK with a 3% increase in visitor and a 9% increase in revenue. A lot of this was associated with the fall in the value of the pound – our model (Tourism Alliance’s) suggested that there would be a 10% increase in revenue last year so a 9% increase indicates that the model in pretty accurate.
  • The £2.25bn in additional revenue generated by inbound tourism last year was sufficient to generate an additional 40,000 jobs in the UK.
  • Holiday visits to the UK were the main driving force, with visits up 11% and spend up a huge 22%. This is to be expected because holiday makers are much more price sensitive than VFR and business visitors.
  • Business visits performed poorly as a result of uncertainty over Brexit.
  • China/South East Asia and the Middle East were the two main hubs for growth.
  • While Scotland has performed very well in increasing inbound visitor and revenue figures, London is still dominating expenditure in England, and Wales is struggling (0% visits -17% spend), so more needs to be done on regional spread.
  • Despite the fall in the value of the pound, outbound tourism numbers increase by 3% – although expenditure was squeezed with just a 2% increase.
  • Another indication that the fall in the value of the pound was affecting outbound tourism was that lower-cost VFR travel experienced the largest increase (+6%). As with inbound tourism, business travel fell by 5%.

Other points to note from me: the 72.8 million trips made by the British aboard in 2017 is the highest yet recorded. Despite the excellent inbound performance, the trade deficit between overseas inbound at £24.5 billion and outbound domestic at £44.8 billion is £20.3 billion. Retaining a greater proportion of UK tourism spend at home in the UK would seem to many of us to be an important goal, worth continuing to vigorously pursue.

The full Great Britain Tourism Statistic (GBTS) report covering domestic tourism within Great Britain in 2017 has yet to be published. Year to date figure from December 2017 show a GB trips, nights and spend up between 5% and 6%.  For most destinations it is finer nations and regions, by purpose and destination typology data to be found in the annual report that is of most value.


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