‘The Olympic Bounce’: British tourism hits pre-recession levels

By Luke Nicholls

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Uk tourism industry, Summer olympic games, Olympic games

VisitBritain's 'GREAT' campaign helped deliver a gold medal-winning performance for UK inbound tourism
VisitBritain's 'GREAT' campaign helped deliver a gold medal-winning performance for UK inbound tourism
One year on from hosting the London 2012 Olympics, Britain’s tourism industry is booming. The latest figures from the ONS International Passenger Survey show we’ve had the best first-half of a year since 2008, with tourism spend at an all-time high.

Over £6.8bn was generated in the first five months of 2013, with three million tourist visiting the UK in May alone. Holiday visits have increased by 7 per cent since 2012 and the all-important business travel market is also up, by 4 per cent.

National tourist board VisitBritain has welcomed the figures, having piled its efforts into the ‘GREAT’ campaign​which aimed to convert international Olympics viewers into inbound visitors.

“The Olympic bounce has well and truly sprung with the best start to a year since 2008,” said VisitBritain’s director of strategy and communications, Patricia Yates. “This has seen us achieve record-breaking spend figures for 2013 to date and record visitor numbers for May and is proof that tourism continues to deliver the economic legacy of hosting the Games last year.

“We are surpassing our spend forecast for 2013, which is testament to the fact that our GREAT campaign has capitalised on the showcasing of Britain through 2012 to turn viewers into visitors.

“Our marketing and promotion of Britain as a great place to visit will ensure we are well positioned to deliver continued growth through 2013 and beyond, achieving positive results for the UK tourism industry and increasing the 2.6 million jobs supported by the sector.”


The IPS figures point toward record levels of visits continuing from ‘Rest of World’ markets (those outside Europe / North America) - visits are 10 per cent higher in May alone and 9 per cent higher in 2013 so far.

From Europe, May saw slight growth from the high-volume EU15 markets, up 2 per cent, and a considerable leap in visits from the smaller A12 ‘Accession’ markets.

And, with a heatwave currently sending temperatures soaring around a sun-deprived Britain, this positive tourism news looks set to continue throughout the year. VisitBritain’s 2013 full-year forecast suggests the volume of inbound visits will increase by 3 per cent and the value of visits by 4.5 per cent.

Despite a wave of criticism of the Olympics​due to its negative effects on many businesses, its effects on tourism are clear: last year’s IPS revealed a 6 per cent increase in visitor spend to £18.2bn for the 12 months to May 2012, with incoming holiday visitors over the period reaching a record 12.3 million.

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