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British tourism breaks new records

Last year Great Britain recorded 34.8 million international tourist stays, or 6% more than in 2013, establishing a new record. The sector generated £21.7 billion (€30 billion) in revenues. The British tourist office hopes that in 2015, the record will be beaten once again thanks to arrivals in London, as well as in other secondary cities and regions outside the capital.

The British Tourist Authority (VisitBritain) announced 34.8 million international visitors to the country last year, or around two million additional visitors over 2013 (+6%). This is a new record for Great Britain which ranks eighth among international destinations, close behind Germany, which is seventh*. Among the biggest travelers, North Americans scored well (3.7 million, +4% over 2013) as did Europeans (25.8 millions, +7%).

Helen Grant, minister for tourism, is pleased with the good results. "It confirms that our tourism strategy is working and highlights the important role the industry plays in the government's long-term economic plan. I will continue to work hard with the sector to encourage tourists to visit all parts of the country to further boost local growth and jobs". She hopes to encourage tourists to visit all regions in the country to stimulate local growth and employment. Sally Balcombe, Chief Executive at VisitBritain, meanwhile announced: "Inbound tourism is increasing year-after-year, with Britain now achieving its second consecutive annual record, with further growth forecast for 2015." VisitBritain estimates that this year, 35.1 million tourists will visit Great Britain and that 22.2 billion pounds sterling will be spent in this sector.

Each region benefited from the increase in number of international tourists

The tourism sector generated 21.7 billion pounds sterling in 2014, or 3% more than in 2013. On the first nine months of the year 2014, London already represented close to 9 billion pounds sterling out of the 14 billion in revenues. The British capital thus produced 65% of tourism revenues in the country. Despite it all, the strongest increase in revenues from January to September 2014, may be attributed to other tourist regions. While London saw its revenues increase by 6%, Scottish and Welsh revenues climbed respectively by 12 and 14%. Scotland successfully took advantage of the athletic events in particular (Commonwealth Games & Ryder Cup) to increase tourist arrivals. Thus, American arrivals have climbed 37% and Swedish arrivals have doubled. As for the Welsh, Wales hosted the NATO summit in Newport last September. Equally significant, Yorkshire, the region in the North of England (the vastest in the country) saw its tourism revenues climb by 12% thanks in particular to the start of the Tour de France in July 2014.

Hotel groups must support hotel demand

According to figures from MKG Hospitality, the occupancy rate of hotels in Great Britain reached 79.2% in 2014, or 2.2 percentage points more over the previous year. It is also the highest percentage in the European Union. With an average daily rate excluding taxes up by 3.9% (to 104.1€), the revenue per available room is up by 7% over 2013. Among the major cities, only Birmingham has an occupancy rate lower than 75%, but gained no fewer than three additional percentage points over 2013. The strongest increase in the RevPar may be attributed to Glasgow (+22.4%). Cardiff's good results (+13.6 % of the RevPar) and and those of cities in the north of England, Leeds-Bradford (+11.3% RevPar) and Manchester (+10.3% RevPar).

While London had to adapt to the growing demand in accommodations for the Olympic Games in 2012 (and the Diamond Jubilee), the other cities lust also respond to a demand experiencing a strong increase. Moreover the entire country is organizing the World Rugby Cup this year. Cardiff will host two quarter finals. This competition will attract enormous volumes of tourists from Oceania, Latin America (Argentina, Uruguay) and South Africa. Economy hotel chains such as Premier Inn, growth leader in Europe in 2014 (read), and Travelodge are adapting meet the demand by developing hotels, especially in London and its periphery.

Growth perspectives in London as well as the provinces

The goal announced by Cameron's Government is to reach 40 million international visitors in 2020. The drop in the price of petrol, and thus in the cost of airline transportation, and the project that aims to facilitate access (and the price) to the visa for certain countries are advantages. Visitbritain hopes to increase the growth in international tourists towards regional destinations and "secondary cities" on the island. Just a few months ago the Tourist Authorities launched communications campaigns to promote the British countryside (from Cornwall to the Highlands) and cities such as Manchester and Birmingham. Considering the hotel figures for the year, the operation is pretty much a success. In terms of equipment, the vice-President of the country of Nick Clegg announced an investment of 500,000 pounds sterling to give Yorkshire modem bike lanes and 300,000 pounds sterling to communicate about the county. In Manchester, 800 new hotel rooms will be delivered in the next twelve months with reputable chains such a Motel One (330 rooms), Innside by Melia (208) and independents properties (ex: Hotel Football and old vedettes owned by the Manchester cub).

For London, VisitBritain primarily targets Chinese clientèle coming to shop or watch a match of Premier League. In 2013, they spent 493 million pounds sterling versus 184 million in 2010 thanks to an increase in arrivals by close to 80%. The potential for development is thus enormous.

*The United Kingdom communicates regarding international tourist arrivals while Germany communicates on the number of international nights. It is thus difficult to establish a classification between these two countries.

Also read:

  • Edinburgh, a solid outlook for the future
  • Hampton by Hilton develops its first modular hotel

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