British tourism set for record-breaking summer?

By Kate Mead

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Cent increase, Tourism

London tourism could be impacted by recent rioting in the capital
London tourism could be impacted by recent rioting in the capital
Latest figures for inbound tourism and visitor spending suggest a record-breaking summer for Britain lies ahead, but experts say the recent riots are a concern for potential visitors.

June saw an increase in tourism of 9 per cent from last year - 4 per cent up from the last record set in June 2005 - according to figures released from the International Passenger Survey (IPS).

Some 2.9 million foreign visitors came to Britain in June spending a record £1.7bn, a 4 per cent increase on June 2010.

But since rioting broke out in the capital tour operators suffered 330 cancellations for trips to London and, despite it being less than 0.2 per cent of all bookings, the effect on new bookings is not yet clear.

The European Tour Operators Association (ETOA) said cancellations were less than the normal threshold for lost bookings, adding: “Such riots occur nearly everywhere. Paris, Madrid, Athens, Los Angeles, Moscow and Bangkok have all experienced rioting and looting. The significance lies in how a country is seen to deal with it.”

This week, VisitBritain was forced to pull its ‘You’re invited’ advert from the BBC website because it was running next to news footage of the London riots.

A spokesman for the tourism body said: “These obviously aren’t the images of London and our cities that we would wish to see, but past experience tells us that places like London recover very quickly from such events and we will continue to work closely with the tourism industry to understand the effects of the past few days.

“Feedback from our overseas network indicates that although there is concern in some markets, there are no reports of any group cancellations. Britain has a strong and positive image overseas and we hope any impact from these incidents will be short-lived and that inbound tourism will remain robust.”

Encouraging figures

Patricia Yates, director of strategy and communications for VisitBritain, said that June’s tourism figures strengthened a 6 per cent increase in the number of inbound visitors for the first half of the year.

She added: “Perhaps the most exciting trend emerging at present has been the increasing number of visitors who are coming to Britain from parts of the world beyond Europe and North America.

“This is good news for tourism operators and good news for the British economy for which the sector is a significant contributor.”

Figures from BAA showed that passenger traffic in June on routes between Brazil and Britain increased by 65 per cent compared to last year with half a million visitors from outside Europe and North America.

Longer term spending was also at a record level, with the 12 months to June 2011 seeing total spend of £17.2bn – 4 per cent higher than the previous record from last year.

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