The figures for September are fairly static - down 1% on volume and up 2% in value, but monthly figures can fluctuate so the longer three month figures are a bit more accurate showing visits up 4% and spend up by 3%.
This slow-down in growth has pulled the YTD figures down to 7% and 9% respectively, with figures for nine months of the year, including the main tourism season completed, it is difficult to see the end of the year figures varying significantly from this level, which would mean that inbound tourism should generate £2bn in additional export revenue for the UK economy in 2017. This is an exceptional performance and is only second to the £2.6bn increase in inbound tourism revenue that was generated in 2013, after the 2012 Olympics.
This revenue is sufficient to generate over 35,000 new jobs in the tourism industry. However, the UK’s growth in inbound tourism is less that that being achieved by Spain, France and the Netherlands, but equal to Italy and Switzerland and only 1% above Germany - these countries have not had a beneficial 15% fall in their currency.
The journey purpose data, as in previous months, shows that growth has been particularly strong in the Leisure and VFR segments, while Business travel is again down markedly due to business uncertainty related to Brexit. The global source market data shows that most of the growth is coming from the long-haul markets.
What is new and interesting is that outbound tourism is starting to show it’s first signs of slowing down with visits down 2% and spend down 1% over the last three months. While not unexpected given the exchange rate, the outbound tourism market has been very resilient over 2017 and suggests that travel is seen as necessity rather than a luxury and there is a two-tier economy in the UK with a large number of people still benefiting from very low mortgage rates.