VisitBritain reveals 25:1 return on investment

Visitors to Britain spent more than £1 billion in 2017, as a result of activity by national tourism agency VisitBritain/VisitEngland.

The statistics from the agency’s annual review show that for every pound invested in the agency, visitors spent £25 in Britain.

As well as the government’s £39.2 million investment, the agency attracted £13 million of investment in cash and in-kind from commercial partners and delivered £2 million profit from its online shop – money which is reinvested into its activities.

Furthermore, VisitBritain forecasts that it will reach its target of 40 million inbound visits this year – two years earlier than originally forecast.

Steve Ridgway, chief executive of the British Tourist Authority – which runs VisitBritain/VisitEngland, hailed tourism as a “£127 billion powerhouse” but warned of “significant challenges”, with Brexit being the most important.

“We want to ensure that the future relationship keeps our borders as frictionless as possible for visitors, our aviation as connected as ever, and our economic stability on track – because tourism depends on this,” he said.

He also welcomed the figures about domestic tourism in England, but again warned of challenges.

In 2017, £70 billion was spent by domestic tourists in England, supporting millions of jobs, and staycations accounted for almost 80% of all tourism activity,

Ridgway added: “While these are good results, we still see a trade deficit, with more spent overseas by British tourists than inbound visitors spend in Britain, and many young people finding it easier to jump on a cheap flight and head elsewhere than discover this country.

“We want to reverse this, to make our industry more productive and see even stronger growth.

“And there are real opportunities to improve tourism’s productivity and to extend the season year-round.”

Ridgway is leading the tourism industry’s bid for a sector deal under the government’s Industrial Strategy.

“A sector deal would spell a step-change in how we underpin the success of tourism for a generation. From fixing issues including skills and productivity to building stronger tourism destinations up and down the country – we are ambitious and ready to deliver,” he said.

Tourism minister Michael Ellis said: “Britain’s tourism industry is booming. Last year was a very strong year for domestic and inbound tourism, with tens of billions of pounds going into our economy. The government, alongside VisitBritain/VisitEngland, is working with the sector to build on this success with an emphasis on attracting major business events and investing in local tourism projects through the Discover England Fund.

“As we approach the UK’s exit from the European Union, we are absolutely committed to helping the industry continue to grow, promoting the country as a must-visit destination and ensuring that local communities benefit.”

Home page image of the Tower of London: VisitBritain/Andrew Pickett