Tourists flock to London as weak pound overcomes terror fears

Concerns about recent terror attacks in London are being overcome by the weak pound as foreign tourists pour into the capital.

Bookings for international arrivals in London continue to be robust and are 14% ahead of where they were at the start of July last year.

This comes as the city is on average 9% better value due to the relative strength of foreign currencies, according to ForwardKeys which predicts future travel patterns by analysing 16 million booking transactions a day.

US bookings are 21% ahead year-on-year and Asia Pacific 14% up for London arrivals between July 1 and October 31.

Only the Middle East is lagging, currently 20% behind, compared to the same period in 2016.

The lag is due mainly to a fall in the oil price hurting Gulf economies and the timing of Ramadan, which fell earlier this year.

Benchmarked against its European competitor cities, London has the biggest market share of long-haul bookings for arrivals between July and October at 12%, against 9% for Paris and 7% for Rome.

Tourism from the so-called BRICS countries of Brazil, Russia, India, China is surging.

All show double-digit growth in forward bookings for London. With the exception of India, their citizens are showing much greater interest in London than the rest of Europe.

Chile is showing the greatest growth in forward bookings, 67% ahead, followed by Brazil at 48%, Taiwan, 43% and China, 35% ahead.

Total long-haul international arrivals to London were up 16% in the first half of 2016 compared to the same period last year.

ForwardKeys research reveals that big boosts came from the Americas, with a 52% share of long-haul arrivals, up 19%, and Asia Pacific, with a share of 34%, up 14%.

The rapid growth was sparked by the sterling exchange rate falling to its lowest level in 30 years against the dollar in mid-October last year.

The ForwardKeys data shows that initially bookings, and consequently arrivals, soared when tourists realised their increased spending power.

ForwardKeys co-founder and CEO Olivier Jager said: “This is an obvious and clear demonstration of how currency fluctuations affect travel, even in the face of other significant factors.

“London is great value at the moment and people are springing at the opportunity for a holiday, costing less than they might have anticipated.

“It’s also testimony to London’s appeal as a destination and excellent news for all those businesses involved in selling London and the rest of the UK as a destination.”

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