Surprise Reduction in UK Tourism Business over the London Olympics

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The bigger picture however, is encouraging. Latest figures (May 2012) from the Office for National Statistics (crct) reveal some very strong numbers, in data collated by hotel guest products specialists VendEase Ltd

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Despite a lacklustre market during the games in London, Office for National Statistics data points to a fast recovery

The Government’s biggest ever tourism campaign - GREAT – aims to revel in that spotlight and create a massive British sell out performance. Launched by Prime Minister David Cameron in New York last September, it aims to attract four million extra visitors to the UK and get them to spend a further £2.3 billion over the next four years.

Data collated by Hotel guest products specialists VendEase, shows increases across the board for UK Hotels and our travel and tourism industry in general, although surprisingly the London market has taken a surprise dip during the Games. VendEase, who operate “Last Minute Item” vending machines on behalf of most of the leading UK hotel brands have seen a 20% dip in their sales for this unique period. Feedback from hotel General Managers would suggest that non-Olympic tourist numbers are down leaving them with a net deficit of business. These hoteliers are hoping to be back to business as usual post games.

The bigger picture however, is encouraging. Latest figures (May 2012) from the Office for National Statistics (crct) reveal some very strong numbers.

Visitor numbers between January and May 2012 were at record levels with 12.2 million visitors. That’s five per cent more than the same period in 2011 and the first time more than 12 million visits have been recorded for four years.

In May alone, just under 3 million people visited the UK from overseas – seven per cent more than last year and just two per cent fewer than in May 2008 when a record number of people visited the country during that period.

People visiting the UK in May had deep pockets and spent £1.58 billion – the second highest total ever to be recorded behind May 2010. The average spend per visit is rising with people splashing out around £582 each compared with £566 last May. And since the start of the year, overseas visitors have spent £6.2 billion – a record high for this point in the calendar.

The majority of visitors to the UK come here on holiday. In May, 1.3 million people came to see our cities, countryside and coastline. Since the start of the year, that figure stands at 4.6 million and is seven per cent higher than the same period in 2011.

So, who comes to stay? May was a record month for markets outside of Europe and North America and was two per cent up on May 2011. Around 400,000 Americans came to the UK on either business or pleasure in May – a monthly high not hit since 2006.

Visits from people living in the so-called EU15 countries including Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and Sweden were up eight per cent on May 2011 and, for the first five months of the year, were up three per cent.

The GREAT campaign will step up a gear after this summer’s sporting spectacular but the finishing line is a long way off. Exploiting the momentum of recent events will be key to reaching the ambitious target and snatching a gold medal position in the global tourism arena.

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Adam Rock

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