Inbound travel firms ‘skating on thin ice’ as new restrictions are imposed

International visitors to the UK are expected to be down 75% in November and December compared to the same months in pre-pandemic 2019.

Inbound tourism during the period in the run-in to Christmas was worth £4.25 billion to the UK economy at the same point two year ago.

In a poll of UKinbound members prior to the latest Omicron restrictions, 89% of respondents stated that November/December international arrivals/visitor numbers would be lower than 2019 figures.

Of these businesses, four in five stated they expect to be down my more than 75%, indicating that although many restrictions at UK borders have been removed, the country is not expecting an influx of international visitors pre-Christmas.

Companies reported that they expect revenue for 2021 to be down 93% compared to 2019 with many international clients deferring travel until next year.

UKinbound chief executive Joss Croft said “Prior to the announcement of the latest Omicron restrictions, the inbound tourism industry was already facing a tough winter.

“With annual revenues down 93% and international visitors expected to be down 75% during a critical part of the year, Christmas, businesses are skating on thin ice.

“Additionally, the latest restrictions have sent shockwaves through our industry.

“We will need to see what the implications are on travel and health, but inevitably fragile consumer confidence will be dented.

“We were seeing green shoots and our members were reporting an increase in enquiries for 2022, however cancellations for December and early next year are already starting to come through.

“The UK’s third largest service export, inbound tourism, was worth £28.4 billion to the UK economy in 2019 and will be a key driver of economic recovery. These exports will contribute to the government’s new export strategy target and will help kick start the revival of this vital export industry; however emergency measures are required today.

“Having slipped through the gaps of Covid-19 government support schemes, the removal of furlough and the latest restrictions, viable, award-winning inbound tourism businesses need support.”

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