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Brexit, terrorist attacks, elections ? British hospitality remains unshaken

With the latest general election, repeated terrorist attacks and the Brexit issue, the United Kingdom's political and economic context may seem quite unfavorable for tourism and the hospitality industry. However, its growth remains unwavering.

In the wake of recent terrorist attacks in London and Manchester, general elections held today in the United Kingdom could mark another step towards its divorce from the European Union, which started on June 23, 2016. But on its beaches, in its airports, in its fields and streets, British hospitality is doing better than fighting: it's thriving.

On the national level, over the first four months of 2017, RevPAR in the UK has risen by 9.3%. The occupancy rate illustrates a number of visits on the rise (+2.4 pts), while the average daily rate is up by 5.8% compared to the same month one year ago. There is one caveat: the pound has depreciated with respect to other currencies, notably the euro and dollar, since last year. It will thus be necessary to monitor this trend to see if it continues after July.

Despite the terrorist attack on March 22 in the Westminster district, London's hospitality indexes were still green in April 2017: RevPAR has risen by 9.9% thanks to increased occupancy rate (+2.4 pts) and average daily rate (+6.8%). Trends within the capital have been very positive over the first four months of the year: hotels experienced +12.9% RevPAR growth.

This situation contrasts with the consequences of terrorism witnessed in other nations, such as France: in December 2015, the RevPAR in Paris decreased by 12%. Same story following the Nice attack: RevPAR indicators during the month of August 2016 in Provence-Alpes-Côte-d’Azur and Île-de-France regions had collapsed. Nothing equivalent is currently happening in the United Kingdom.

Will tourists grow accustomed to terrorism-related risks? This is indeed what hospitality figures suggest in London as well as in the UK, and considering the latest destinations that experienced terrorism (notably Berlin). But it is far too early to state that recent events will go without consequences for British tourism. The attack on June 3, which once again occurred in the heart of the capital, as well as the one in Manchester, could indeed change things in the coming months: in France, it was not that much the attacks themselves, but rather their repetition -and thus stronger perception of a permanent risk- that wreaked havoc on touristic demand.

It is, above all, the economic and political context that guides the tourism market. And apart from the pound decrease (which is favorable to the industry), Brexit has so far not felt any concrete consequences on economy and consumption. The official beginning on March 29 of negotiations tackling exit from the European Union according to the 50th article in the Lisbon Treaty, could eventually trigger other scenarios imagined at the time of the referendum. This is why todays’ general election could prove critical. But so far, British hospitality sshall not surrender.

Georges Panayotis, President & Founder of Hoespitality ON, comments: "British people and their hospitality industry have reacted well and with composure to the hardships they faced, without losing hope in their ability to overcome difficulties. In this sense, they convey a strong message, a message that Europe should listen to: keep calm and carry on."

Also read:

  • British tourism: after Brexit, a record summer season?
  • Brexit: What impact on European tourism if British demand falters?
  • Brexit: What would it mean for the British and European hotel industry?

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