The latest results from the Great Britain Tourism Survey (GBTS) reveal a strong performance for domestic tourism in the first quarter of the year. There were 19.7 million trips recorded in England between January and March this year, the highest number of trips recorded during the first quarter for seven years.
Expenditure also increased by 24% in total to £3.5 billion compared to 2014. These figures are a significant improvement on last year’s figures which dipped due to the severe weather conditions and flooding at the beginning of the year.
VisitEngland’s latest Tourism Business Monitor supports the findings of this month’s GBTS. Nearly half of accommodation providers and 56% of attractions have reported experiencing an increase in visitors for the year to May. Looking ahead, over nine in ten of the businesses surveyed remain confident about the school summer holiday period. This is particularly true amongst accommodation providers who’ve reported high numbers of advanced bookings.
The early months of the year were characterised by above average weather and a number of high profile anniversaries including the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta and the 50th anniversary of Winston Churchill and events including the first ever ‘Tour de Yorkshire’ in May, hundreds of family friendly Easter activities across the country in April and a host of music, food and walking festivals, all contributing to high levels of confidence amongst businesses. The industry also celebrated all that’s great about tourism in England with English Tourism Week which took place from 14 – 22 March.
VisitEngland kick-started the holiday season with a new £4 million Government-funded Holiday’s at home are GREAT campaign featuring Aardman’s well-known BAFTA-winning character Shaun the Sheep going on holiday in destinations across the UK with his farmyard friends. Shaun the Sheep has appeared in a TV advertisement and a poster campaign encouraging consumers to book a holiday through their local travel agent. The Holidays at Home are GREAT campaign has provided a significant boost to domestic tourism, generating over half a billion (£520.6 million) in incremental spend for the domestic tourism industry and over two million domestic overnight holiday trips since it was launched in 2012.
VisitEngland is also capitalising on a fantastic summer of sport ahead with a new consumer campaign, #HomeOfSport, with a search to find the country’s most popular sports destinations.
VisitEngland, James Berresford, Chief Executive Officer said: “These results are very encouraging as we approach the summer holiday season. The tourism industry’s confidence demonstrates the fantastic resilience of businesses who bounced-back after the severe weather conditions that impacted destinations at the beginning of last year. We know England has standout product and generates high levels of satisfaction for visitors and we will continue to work with the industry to ensure we remain globally competitive, a world-class destination that entices domestic and international visitors. We’re confident that the fantastic number of sporting, cultural and foodie events taking place across the country this summer will continue boosting the industry this year and are hopeful a for bumper summer for English tourism.”
Tourism Minister, Tracey Crouch, said: “The growing numbers of people making the most of England's world-beating destinations is brilliant news for the industry and our economy as a whole. Tourism is a tough market, and there is always more to do, but it's great to see the hard work is paying off and boosting English tourism."
There are a number of high profile events and anniversaries across England which tourism businesses can take advantage of during the next few months. This includes an incredible summer of sport which features Wimbledon, the Americas Cup in Plymouth, and a whole plethora of national events in the lead up to the Rugby World Cup in September. England also has a fantastic line up of cultural events to look forward to including Glastonbury music festival in Somerset, the BRASS Durham International Festival and the ‘Big Festival’ in Oxford.