Long-haul inbound tourism growth slows

Inbound arrivals to London from long-haul destinations have seen “spectacular growth” this year – but the rate of growth has slowed in the final quarter of 2017.

According to ForwardKeys – which analyses booking data – long-haul arrivals in London during the first three quarters of 2017 were up by 13.5% year-on-year.

However, it said: “Analysis of bookings for the final quarter of the year indicates a significant slowing in demand, with bookings currently standing 7% ahead of where they were at the equivalent point last year.”

It said bookings from the Americas – the UK’s most important origin market by numbers and by value – have slowed.

Arrivals in the first three quarters of 2017 were 17% up on 2016 but bookings for the fourth quarter are currently just 4% ahead, year-on-year.

The slowdown in bookings from the US correlates with a decline in the relative strength of the US dollar against sterling.

Last October, sterling hit a five-year low of $1.22 but the rate has since recovered to more than $1.30.

Analysis of long-haul bookings for London also reveal that terror attacks coincided with dips in demand and those dips were significantly more marked in the fast-growing Chinese market.

However, within a matter of just a few weeks, there was a return to growth, suggesting that the inbound travel industry is becoming increasingly resilient to terrorism.

Seb Cron, sales vice-president at ForwardKeys (pictured at World Travel Market London), said: “It appears that the appeal of a weak pound is more attractive to visitors to the UK than the terrorist attacks are off-putting.”