Countries welcoming US tourists back

Latest figures show 40,000 fewer US visitors to Britain than this time last year Countries welcoming US tourists back The United States has managed to persuade 40,000 fewer travellers to Britain this year than…

Countries welcoming US tourists back

Latest figures show 40,000 fewer US visitors to Britain than this time last year

Countries welcoming US tourists back

The United States has managed to persuade 40,000 fewer travellers to Britain this year than in 2018.

The latest figures show an 18% decline in American visitors to the UK in the six months to July, according to research conducted by Andrew McAfee, a professor at MIT’s Sloan school of management, and Kevin Jenkins of the National Centre for Travel and Tourism Research.

American visitors to the UK are down 30% on the same period in 2017. At the same time, 8% more foreign tourists came to Britain in the first half of this year than in the same period last year.

A fall in American visitors may be down to political and economic uncertainty at home and abroad since the election of Donald Trump as US president. The latest figures are the largest year-on-year declines reported in British tourist survey data. The survey has been in place since 1980 and was the first to include information about the percentage of domestic tourists.

China remained the most popular country of origin for UK visitors, attracting 643,000 British tourists in the first half of this year, up nearly 25% on the same period last year. In Britain, Chinese visitors were particularly popular, with their number up 30% on last year.

Germany remained the second most popular country of origin for UK tourists, although their number was down 6.3% on the first half of 2017.

New Zealand and Canada also provided fewer British tourists than in the first half of last year. France, Spain and Ireland enjoyed similar figures.

McAfee suggested the same might be said for the entire UK market as the weakening pound after the Brexit vote made UK travel affordable to foreign tourists.

“In the 2017/18 season, almost half the foreign spend on leisure travel to the UK by tourists from all countries reached the tourist destination in pounds sterling,” he said. “That was true in the prior four decades of survey data for 18 countries.

“By contrast, this season, foreign travellers who visited the UK spent only 42% of their spend in GBP, while spending almost 70% of their money abroad in 18 of those 18 countries.”

McAfee suggested that while Brexit had affected the economic situation of Europe as a whole, few other countries had been immune.

“That was true in the 2014/15 season, when Turkey, Hungary, the Netherlands, Belgium, Norway, France, Germany, Italy, and Austria recorded declines of 9% or more in their share of foreign spend,” he said.

The fall in US visitor numbers coincides with the change in the US visa regime in April that made it harder for Americans to visit Britain without the right documents.

A document prepared by the Association of British Travel Agents blamed rising fuel prices and uncertainty over Britain’s relationship with the EU after the Brexit vote for some of the falling numbers of overseas visitors to the UK.

In 2014, American visitors to the UK spent £7.4bn, down from £8.6bn in 2015, while French visitors spent £4.3bn, down from £4.8bn.

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