New figures defy grand expectations of post-Brexit UK tourism windfall

The UK saw a dip in international leisure travelers over the first nine months of 2016. — AFP pic
The UK saw a dip in international leisure travelers over the first nine months of 2016. — AFP pic

LONDON, Nov 29 — New stats show that despite early, post-Brexit predictions of increased travel from international tourists, the number of leisure travelers to the UK dropped in the first nine months of 2016.

That’s according to the British Hospitality Association (BHA) Travel Monitor, which found that the number of leisure tourists dropped by almost 400,000.

At first glance, the statistics are deceiving: The number of visitors is up by 700,000.

But that number is more reflective of the four per cent rise in business travelers, and an eight per cent rise in people visiting friends or relatives than international leisure arrivals, notes the BHA.

Meanwhile, early prognostications following the Brexit referendum had experts predict that lower airfares and the falling value of the pound against the strength of the American greenback would bring US travelers across the pond in droves.

They also predicted the UK to poach travelers from its longtime rival, Paris, following the spate of terror attacks and terror threats over the last year.

Right after the Brexit results, online reservation site reported a 50 per cent spike in year-over-year searches for British destinations by US travelers, making the UK one of the most popular destinations on their site.

But according to the BHA, Brexit has yet to produce tangible results.

“There has been no post European referendum tourist surge,” said BHA chief executive Ufi Ibrahim in a statement.

In another finding that confounds post-Brexit expectations, the falling pound and political instability did little to change Britons’ traveling plans: To date, analysts note a 5.5 per cent increase in the number of outbound tourists, while in September that figure rose to 10 per cent, compared to the same month last year. — AFP-Relaxnews

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