Quick updates: tourism BIDS, IPS figures and annual conference speakers

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1. On Friday 29th October the Wight BID the pan Isle of Wight Destination Business Improvement District was voted through for a second 5 year term. This will mean that a sum in excess of £3m will be available for marketing the destination through Visit Isle of Wight over the next 5 years. This good news for tourism businesses on the island but also good news for the Destination/Tourism BID model since if it couldn’t be made to work and work well on the Isle of Wight it was far less likely to be viable option for other “mainland” destinations. We will continue to work with Visit Isle of Wight Ltd to understand and share lessons learnt including problems avoided among the destination management and destination marketing community.

Congratulations to the BID team, BID Board and to the business community to getting the vote over the line in particularly challenging times.

2. ONS have released the quarter two (Q2 April to June 21) IPS figures. Notwithstanding the additional restrictions on inbound and outbound travel in place at that time, subsequently relaxed, the figures make grim reading for those directly or indirectly reliant to any degree on in and outbound international travel. They may also begin to help quantify one of the key factors driving the significant rise in UK staycations during the main summer season (covered by Q3 to follow in c 3 months?). The results come with two important caveats, the survey were conducted only at airports and the sample size was very small. The VB summary of the ONS release (featuring inbound only) is reproduced below. The short ONS report is at: Overseas travel and tourism, provisional – Office for National Statistics (ons.gov.uk) the UK outbound figures at paragraph 4.

3. In view of the latest IPS figure the addition of a session on international travel at the joint Tourism Alliance, Tourism Society and British Destinations Annual Conference on Monday 15 Nov 21 is timely. As announced late last week, World Travel and Tourism Council CEO and President, Julia Simpson will now speak on the Prospects for International Tourism. More detail and booking link available at: https://britishdestinations.net/annual-conference-19-march-2018/

The text of the VisitBritain summary of the ONS release reads:

Good Morning All,

The Office of National Statistics (ONS) have published the provisional Q2 2021 results of the International Passenger Survey (IPS).

During the first half of 2021 (January to June 2021), the IPS survey was operational at UK airports only. In ordinary times surveying would also be conducted at UK tunnel terminals (Eurostar and Eurotunnel) as well as some UK sea ports (e.g. Dover), but this was not possible during this period. Therefore, the data presented below and elsewhere on our website for Q1 & Q2 2021 is for air passengers only and is not comparable with historical UK total data. The comparisons made below compare April-June 2021 air data to April-June 2019 air data only as no equivalent is available for 2020. The sample for this period is very low so extreme caution should be used when interpreting results.

Please find Q2 2021 data below and on our dedicated 2021 quarterly webpage where there is additional detail on year-to-date figures.

Visits, spend and nights (air passengers only)

TotalQ2 2021% change vs. Q2 2019
Spend£386 million-94%
Nights13.0 million-78%
  • There were 277,000 inbound visits to the UK in Q2 2021 – down 97% compared to Q2 2019.
  • Spend was down 94% on Q2 2019 with visitors spending £386 million in the UK during Q2 2021.
  • In total, 13.0 million nights were spent in the UK by inbound visitors during Q2 2021, down 78% on Q2 2019.
  • The average spend per visit in Q2, amongst those who departed the UK via an airport was £1,395 (vs £747 in Q2 2019).

Visits and spend by journey purpose (air passengers only)

Journey PurposeVisits Q2 2021% change vs. Q2 2019Spend Q2 2021% change vs. Q2 2019
Holiday13,000-99.6%£21 million-97%
VFR173,000-93%£156 million-94%
Business44,000-97%£74 million-78%
Study18,000-87%£91 million-85%
Miscellaneous (Excl. study)29,000-93%£44 million-88%
  • All journey purposes were a fraction of normal levels in Q2 2021. The table above shows the impact that restricted international travel has had on the UK’s inbound holiday visits with just 13,000 visits registered.
  • Visits to friends and relatives accounted for the majority of inbound visits in Q2 2021, representing 62% of all inbound visits by air and 40% of spend.
  • Study visits were the least impacted in Q2 2021 although visits were still down 86% on two years previous, contributing £91 million to the UK inbound AIR expenditure.
  • There were 44,000 business visits in Q2 2021 which accounted for 16% of all visits. Business spend was the least impacted and represented one fifth (19%) of inbound AIR spend.

Visits and spend by global region (air passengers only)

TotalVisits Q2 2021% change vs. Q2 2019Spend Q2 2021% change vs. Q2 2019
Total Europe183,000-96%£190 million-92%
→ EU Total157,00097%£156 million-92%
→ EU 15115,000-97%£112 million-93%
→ Other EU42,000-94%£43 million-89%
→ Rest of Europe26,000-95%£34 million-91%
North America45,000-97%£60 million-95%
Rest of World49,000-97%£136 million-94%
  • Across all regions, AIR visits to the UK were down between 94% and 97% when compared to Q2 2019.
  • ‘Other EU’ (which consists of Bulgaria, Estonia, Poland, Romania – amongst others) showed the strongest resilience with visits down 94% and spend down 89% compared to Q2 2019.
  • Visits from the EU accounted for 57% of all inbound AIR visits but a smaller 40% of spend during Q2 2021.
  • The Rest of World region accounted for 18% of visits but nearly double the proportion of spend (35%), in line with the 2019 trend.

Our latest central scenario forecast, as of September 3rd 2021, for 2021 is for 7.4 million visits and £5.3 billion spend. Please visit our website at https://www.visitbritain.org/2021-tourism-forecast for more information on this forecast and the latest update.

The ONS have made every effort to produce high-quality estimates for the periods when IPS data is not being collected but have not been able to produce a full set of results due to the risks associated with the results being misleading. More detailed information on the approach used to produce 2020 results where interviewing had been affected by the coronavirus (COVID-19) can be found on the ONS website and for Q2 2021 details are on this ONS page.

Please do get in touch if you have any questions or comments.



Devki Patel, Insights Consultant

VisitBritain, 3 Grosvenor Gardens, London, SW1W 0BD

She/her T: 0207 578 1097 | E: devki.patel@visitbritain.org

For inbound tourism: W: www.visitbritain.org | Twitter:@VisitBritainBiz | LinkedIn: VisitBritain For destination inspiration: W:www.visitbritain.com | Twitter:@VisitBritain | Facebook:LoveGreatBritain


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