2010 is another difficult year for UK travel and tourism market


Research and Markets has announced the release of the “Travel & Tourism Market Review 2010” report.

The UK travel and tourism industry serves three separate markets: domestic tourism by UK residents within the UK; outbound tourism by UK residents travelling abroad; and inbound tourism by overseas residents travelling to the UK. In 2009, total expenditure on UK travel and tourism (combining these three markets) fell by 5.5% to 70.17bn. Falls were also recorded in the number of trips made, which was down by 1.9% to 214.5 million, and in the number of bed nights, which fell by 6.4% to 1.24 billion. The outbound market is the largest by expenditure and bed nights, while the highest number of trips made was reported in the domestic market.

The UK travel and tourism market felt the full force of the UK and global recession in 2009. The outbound travel and tourism market, which demonstrated steady annual growth in value terms between 2005 and 2008, was most affected by the downturn, while the inbound market was hit by falling visitor numbers. In contrast, the domestic travel and tourism market flourished, as UK consumers opted for so-called staycation holidays in preference to holidaying abroad.

The election of the Coalition Government has already had implications for the travel and tourism industry. The Government quickly announced that it will block the building of a third runway at Heathrow airport and prohibit the building of further runways at Gatwick and Stansted airports. It has also indicated that it will replace Air Passenger Duty (APD), a levy which has resulted in the UK having the highest levels of aviation tax in Europe, with a per-plane duty (PPD).

The Air Travel Insolvency Protection Advisory Committee (ATIPAC) has reiterated its support for the flight plus Air Travel Organisers Licensing (ATOL) reform proposals. ATIPAC believes that reform of ATOL is long overdue and that the new Government should not miss the opportunity to bring clarity to consumers and to extend financial protection arrangements to a greater number of holidaymakers. The flight plus system will require ATOL protection for all sales of flights, as well as other holiday components, such as hotels or car hire, regardless of the terms and conditions of booking.

2010 is expected to be another difficult year for the UK travel and tourism market. The forecast improvement in the UK and global economic outlook in 2010 should help to bolster demand, although the speed and rate of recovery is likely to remain modest and it may be 2011 before the market starts to improve. The 2012 London Olympics should provide a welcome boost to both the inbound and domestic sectors of the market.