WTM 2017: inbound buoyed by Brexit vote

The weaker pound as a result of the referendum result in 2016 has created a “boom” in tourists visiting the UK, according to Euromonitor International.

The market research company said the UK had become “much more affordable” as a result of the Brexit vote, attracting more holidaymakers from overseas.

Speaking at World Travel Market London, Caroline Bremner (pictured), head of travel and tourism research at Euromonitor, said: “It’s quite positive on the inbound side. It’s much cheaper to come to the UK.

“We have always been seen as an expensive destination and we are now deemed as value for money.

“If you consider that the UK has been a victim of terrorism three or four times this year, that is not impacting demand from international source markets.”

She predicted the UK would continue to benefit, particularly if there is a “no deal” scenario on Brexit in 2019.

“A ‘no deal’ on Brexit will have a positive impact on inbound tourism because the pound would continue to fall; a transition deal is less positive [for inbound tourism],” she added.

She predicted the UK economy would continue to grow at a rate of 1.5% to 2% under a transitional Brexit deal.

In contrast, the outbound travel market could be seriously affected by a ‘no deal’ Brexit.

She warned: “A ‘no deal’ Brexit could have a major, serious effect on outbound demand and reduce demand.”

Richard Calvert, chief executive at Shearings Leisure Group, highlighted how half of the staff at his company’s chain of 45 hotels came from Europe, and many are concerned about their future in the UK.

However, he had been heartened during an earlier session at WTM London, when the European Parliament’s Brexit negotiator Guy Verhofstadt had backed a transition period of two or three years after the UK leaves the EU.

Tristram Yarde-Leavett, managing director of Tourwise of London, said the depreciation of the pound helped his firm’s inbound business, but he was also concerned about the impact of Brexit on hospitality staff.

Another factor was the impact of terrorism this year in London – inbound visitors had not cancelled their 2017 trips but he was not seeing the growth rates he had expected for 2018, which may be a result of the attacks.