Two new Foresight reports now available

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Two new VisitBritain Foresight reports added to our protected member section:

Edition 171 – “Inbound visitors to the UK with a health condition or impairment”, is based on an addition set of questions asked during the 2018 International Passenger Survey (IPS). It also contrasts and compares 2018 with 2010 the last time similar additional questions were asked. The report presents the statistical findings and makes no specific recommendations. The summary is on page 4 but at fewer than 20 bullet point pages it isn’t difficult to scan or read in full.

Those with an impairment, or travelling in a group with others with impairments are estimated to represent 1.9% of all international visitors. Although the full report was of interest what struck me was the significance of visiting friends and relatives (VFR) within that:

The journey purpose for 46% of trips was VFR. Consequently, the average spend per day for all visits was lower than the average for other visitor groups (free or low-cost accommodation etc.). However, the average stay for the category/group as a whole is longer and consequently the total spend, per trip greater, again presumably driven largely by the nature of VFR?  Surprisingly, the largest single declared nationality was British at 15% of the total, which is largely attributed to expats.  Some of the top source markets may also reflect the expat/VFR influence; USA, Spain, Ireland, France, Germany and Australia?

Putting aside VFR, only c 1% of all international visitors current travelling to the UK have or are travelling in a group with one or more person with an impairment.  Given the ageing affluent population of many of the UK’s source markets, there are significant opportunities to grow travel for holiday, business and study purposes, among those with impairments, using both our existing and developing accessible public and private commercial visitor infrastructure.

Arguably the significant increase in wheelchair users since 2008 (plus 100%) may be down as much to our greatly improved facilities for wheelchairs during the last decade as it is to any other factor? If that is the case then the more recent broadening of facilities and/or understanding and services design to accommodate other impairments, may start to have a similar positive impact, particularly if these improvements are proactively promoted.

Edition 172 – “Understanding business tourism”, is again based on additional IPS questions asked, in 2016 and again 2018.  This is a longer and much more detail report at 41 pages it gives insight into the detail behind this important market segment which accounts for just over 20% of all inbound tourism.

For reasons that are not clear the executive summary promised in the list of content does not appear to exist, although there are useful business visits type summaries starting at page 33, which give key facts for the eight identified sub components.

As with international visits for other purposes London leads, the way with 40% total with only the South East at 11% among the other Nations and regions getting more than 10% each of the remaining total.  The report is worth reading in full if you have any interest in growing international business tourism, or if you, as the report title suggests, wish to better understand the sector and therefore some of the headline Nations and regions figures that are regularly reported.  With no executive summary there is no easy short cuts I can recommend.  A few points:

I was particularly struck by the fact that of the 8.4 million business trips in 2018 a full quarter were made by lorry drivers, typically staying for short periods of just over 2 days and spending relatively little at an average of £42 per night, between them accounting for only 4% of the total international business tourism spend.  Poland is the number one source market for business visits to the UK at 10% but tenth in value at 3%. The all-important context is that this is because three quarters of all business trips from Poland are made by lorry drivers. The inclusion of driver may be helping to distort the big picture, particularly in the 5 English regions where the lorry drivers make up between 40% and 46% percent of all international business trips received? That said, it is absolutely right and proper that they are included and vital that we all broadly understand the implications for the headline figure, which exactly what this report helps us do.

I raise this point about drivers not as a dig at the figure but to highlight the critical importance of understanding the intricacies of the wider business tourism market.   And especially those of the other 7 business visit types which are all potentially far more lucrative and which, unlike the transportation of goods, can be influenced to differing degrees by tourism businesses and destination managers either working alone, or more likely in partnership.

It may also be important for some in the short to medium term to better understand the role of driver from Europe in UK business tourism and therefore the potential that any Brexit inspired changes might have (positive or negative) on their current, reported international business tourism performance.

Find the reports in VB drop down under the “Members section” menu tab or go direct to it (2nd paragraph) at:

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