VisitBritain has published its tourism forecast for 2024 showing an increase in inbound visits and spend overall to the UK compared to 2023 levels, although with varying rates of recovery and growth across its major inbound visitor markets.
VisitBritain’s overall forecast for spending by international visitors in the UK in 2024 is £34.1 billion (AU$65.65b), up 7 per cent on the spending predicted in 2023 and up 20 per cent on 2019, although 96 per cent of 2019 levels when adjusted for inflation.
Looking at the number of visits to the UK, 39.5 million visits are forecast, up 5 per cent on the 37.8 million expected in 2023 however still 3 per cent shy of 2019 levels.
VisitBritain is predicting that inbound tourism, both the number of visits and spending by international visitors, will recover to 2019 levels by early 2025.
The United States (US) continues to lead tourism’s recovery with record-breaking spend by American visitors in the UK in 2023, up 28 per cent on 2019 based on latest figures even when adjusted for inflation. VisitBritain is expecting the US market to be worth £6.3 billion (AU$12.13b) in 2024 with American visitors contributing almost £1 in every £5 of all inbound spending.
Australia and New Zealand both set new records for spend and visits to Britain in early 2023. The markets are now on track to be fully recovered and exceed pre-pandemic levels for both inbound visits to the UK and tourism spending in 2023, based on latest forecasts.
Australia has seen strong recovery and growth, with the market forecast to be worth almost £1.5 billion to the UK economy in 2023, a growth of 25 per cent compared to 2019 in nominal terms. New Zealand is also expected to finish the 2023 year demonstrating a strong post-pandemic recovery, exceeding 2019 tourism spend in the UK by 84 per cent.
VisitBritain CEO Patricia Yates said it has been great to see the overall growth forecast for this year on 2023, but was concerned whether this could maintain pace.
“We have however seen a slow-down in the overall pace of recovery compared to the strong start seen in the first half of 2023 and we face fierce competition from our European neighbours,” Yates said.
“To drive spending to Britain our international campaigns will remain focused on those markets showing strong growth, including Australia and the US, and we’ll continue to compete hard in our major European markets and the valuable Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) countries.
“We also want more destinations across Britain to feel tourism’s economic benefits. Our global GREAT Britain campaigns are showcasing our vibrant cities, contemporary culture and beautiful coast and countryside, inspiring visitors to discover more of Britain, stay longer and to come now.”
VisitBritain’s country manager, Australia & New Zealand, Maria Sykes said: “It is great to see the growth from Australia and New Zealand, with both countries setting new records for spend and visits to Britain in early 2023. As one of Britain’s most valuable inbound markets, we’re delighted to see the pace of Australia’s recovery in spend contributing to Britain’s global recovery.
“We look forward to unveiling a new international campaign in Australia this year and continuing our work to support the industry, converting inspiration into bookings and inviting visitors to discover what’s new in Britain in 2024.”
VisitBritain’s GREAT Britain marketing campaigns in 2024 are set to run across Australia, France, Germany, the GCC and the US, inspiring visitors to ‘See Things Differently’ by showing fresh and exciting experiences, alongside a warm British welcome.
Tourism is Britain’s third largest service export and a major part of British trade.
(Featured Image: Woman walking on Westminster bridge – iStock/Maridav)