In this new section, we’ll be reviewing the latest trends and developments within the UK tourism market. This month, our focus is on the economy and some of the biggest and brightest projects across the British Isles.
Tourism on the rise thanks to weak pound
Figures have been published for UK’s inbound tourism in 2017, and reports say that numbers grew 4% year on year, which has been attributed to the weak pound, offering more value for money for many overseas visitors.
In June 2016 when the referendum was held the USD/GBP rate fell from $1.47 to $1.35, with lows of around $1.22 through the winter before making a slow recovery towards the end of 2017. This equated to around 20% more spending power for US visitors which has acted as a great incentive for UK vacations.
Historically, the US is our most valuable market, and last year saw 13% year on year growth from visitors to 3.9million over the year, while spending increased by 9% up to a record £3.6billion over the year, equalling around £925 spend per person.
Our biggest gains came from Asian markets. Typically high-spending visitors from China delivered a 35% increase in spend from a 29% increase in visits. Tourism from China delivered a spend of £694 million between 337,000 people, totalling over £2050 spend per person.
Latest Discover England Fund successful applicants announced
The Discover England Fund was launched in 2016 to promote tourist destinations across England to target European, Scandinavian, Gulf & US markets by developing local infrastructure and cultural sites through a range of projects. Earlier this month, 11 applicants were awarded a share of up to £250,000 spending to invest in developments for the third year of the fund.
Among those successful are projects to market ‘England’s Seafood Coast’ and the ‘Urban Food Hub’ in Bristol, which hope to improve perception of England as a destination for culinary enthusiasts. Other projects focus on embellishing England’s cultural history with investments into ‘England’s Literary Greats’, ‘Authentic Collections’ and ‘The Northern World Heritage Collection’. ‘Uncover the Cotswolds’ ran by Cotswolds Tourism also seeks to promote tours and experiences around the wider region to improve integration with tour operators.
The North West appeared to be the big winners, with multiple projects approved to promote the region for short getaways centred around music, dance, exploration, food & drink. Other local initiatives include marketing horse racing on an international level, as well as promoting extended stays for delegates attending scientific conferences in Manchester.
New theme parks are blowing up!
In quite a bizarre new trend, the number of new total-wipeout themed inflatable theme parks across the UK has rocketed this year. The new developments include the first of their kind in both Scotland and Wales, riding on the back of the success of a number of temporary fixtures which have been travelling the country.
Wales’ new “Limitless” park in Swansea opened earlier in June, ripping out their old trampolines and replacing them with a huge inflatable playground. A similar development was also recently completed at Nottingham’s ‘Planet Bounce’. Not to be outdone Cardiff is opening their own attraction, ‘The Inflatable Arena’.
In Scotland, Aberdeens’ ‘Innoflate’ opened earlier this month as their first inflatable theme park, to be followed by ‘Flip Out’, a 63,000 sq ft arena in Glasgow due to open later in the year, making this their 25th location across the UK.
Meanwhile in Beverley, the UK’s first double-decker inflatable theme park is due to open, which will also include the biggest ball pool in the country. This new location for Inflata Nation will be their fourth, adding to existing parks in Manchester, Cheshire and Birmingham.
Have you benefited from hiring inflatable obstacle courses, or noticed more international visits as a result of local initiatives? Let us know your success stories!