The preliminary IPS figures for 2018 have been released. These figures indicated that inbound visitor number were down by 4% last year while spend was down by a substantial £1.7bn (7%). Visitor numbers were down by 2-3% for the main categories of Holiday, Business and VFR travel with a big decline of 16% in the Miscellaneous category which includes short-term study. There was again a decline of around 4% from most markets, although the North American market was static although the Non-Eu European market declined by 12%.
With the pound at a historical low against both the US dollar and the euro.you would normally expect revenue to have increased, a 7% drop therefore indicates that other factors are involved. While it can be argued that concerns over Brexit were impacting visitor numbers from Europe, that the drop in visitor numbers in Europe was mirrored by most other markets suggests that some other factor was at play such as the global economic slowdown and the trade war between the US and China/Europe. Conversely, expenditure by UK residents taking overseas trips increased by 2.2% in 2018, which indicates that despite the uncertainty, people are still willing to spend on holidays.