Inbound travellers to the UK
According to Visit Britain, 2022 is expected to see travellers return to the UK and current figures suggest that by the Summer levels of inbound tourists will be around 50% of 2019 levels at around 21m visitors and to around 65% of 2019 levels by the end of 2022
Historically the UK receives around half it’s visitors from North America, Asia and the Middle East and around half from Europe with London drawing around half of the visitors (which is unsurprising considering it being the capital and served by 5 airports), We see this split continuing. Either way visitors to the UK are returning and this will take up capacity which was utilised by Brits in 2021 particularly in London and the National Parks thus squeezing supply.
Who is going abroad?
According to a recent study two thirds of Britains see a foreign trip in 2022 as a priority.
Ryanair expects to fly 14% more capacity this summer than in the same season of 2019, and will carry a record 165 million passengers in the year to March 2023 up from just under 100 million in the current year and a pre-COVID record of 149 million. Qtr 1 2022 remains behind 2019 but is catching up and March figures will be key to see if the recovery is acclerating to 2019 bookings and will be released in April
The Easter holidays in April are critical, CEO O’Leary said. If they pass without a major COVID setback, “we think we will be set fair for a very strong summer recovery,” he said.
Domestic travel trends
Visit Britain’s central scenario forecast for 2021 is for a recovery to £56.2bn in domestic tourism spending in Britain in 2021; this is up 65% compared to 2020 but still only 61% of the level of spending seen in 2019.
So what does this mean for 2022 looking ahead? Well, there remains room for significant growth to return to 2019 levels but the question is – Will those people who spent on domestic tourism in 2019 travel abroad now restrictions have loosened or remain commitment to taking UK holidays aswell or instead off
Why UK tourism will recover to 2019 levels in 2022
Ed Bassett UK GM of Camptoo cites the following reasons why he believes 2022 will be back to 2019 levels despite increasing outbound traffic
- Inbound Travel will reach 65% of 2019 levels. This will fuel demand in UK hotels and airbnbs/bnbs that disappeared in 2020 and 2021. “The UK remains highly desirable for Europeans and Americans, Asians and those from the Middle East and we see a strong rebound in inbound traffic, not to 2019 levels but getting there into 2023” says Ed
- Many Brits have become accustomed and indeed will desire a second UK holiday despite wishing to also to travel overseas. Many will choice to stay at home due to remaining doubts on foreign travel and current International tensions. “There is nervousness around going abroad for many people still who will choose to stay nearer to home, particulary amongst families where getting stuck abroad will be very costly. On top of that we see many people visiting relatives more often going forward and taking UK short breaks with parents and grandchildren. Family trips will remain strong as we connect again” says Ed
- Brits love camping and weekend breaks. In the last couple of years many Brits have rekindled their love of camping, campervans and glamping. “We estimate that the RV market has grown fast with an extra 30,000 motorcaravans imported into the UK. “These vehciles, motorhomes and campervans all need to go somewhere and spend money” says Ed so we see continued strength in the camping sector. ” Campsite’s have sprung up all over the country and whilst they not might not achieve occupancy levels of 2021 we believe they will surpass 2019 numbers by around 20%. The availability and quality of campsites has improved across the piste and many people see the benefits of camping as something beneficial to wellbeing despite our weather.
- There is far more choice Hoseasons recently announced the development of several high end glamping operations and we see this pattern continuing across the glamping sector. “We see investment in more Centre Parcs type destinations across the UK which are strongly nature and outdoors centred. The UK is no longer the second class citizen of poor accommodation. Boutique Hotels are also growing in numbers as consumers desire to leave the city more regularly and we see a number of private equity firms acquiring holiday parks in 2022”
“We believe that the UK tourism sector is in a much stronger position that 2019 with an excellent selection of accommodation across the country, fresh capital, a new desire to get back to nature, continued interest in camping/glamping and some nervousness for foreign travel remaining. Add the large numbers of inbound travellers we think UK tourism is set for strong growth in 2022/23 even with a large bounce in overseas travel. Pent up demand for travel remains buoyant even in these uncertain times. We all need a break and to reconnect with loved ones and doing this in the UK continues to make sense to us”
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