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The UK’s Inbound Travel Strategy: What You Need to Know

Specialist Group Tour Operator & DMC for Cornwall & Isles of Scilly

The UK government and its tourism agency VisitBritain have been actively working to boost inbound tourism as a key part of the country’s economic growth strategy. With inbound tourism contributing billions to the UK economy each year, bringing in tourists has become a priority.

VisitBritain Initiatives

VisitBritain, the national tourism agency, has launched several major initiatives in recent years to promote the UK globally and bring in more visitors.

In 2021, VisitBritain rolled out its biggest ever marketing campaign, “I Travel For…”, targeting key markets like the US, France, Germany and others. The £6 million campaign promoted different aspects of travel in the UK, from culture to landscapes to nightlife. Surveys found it succeeded in boosting perceptions of the UK as an attractive destination.

Other recent VisitBritain initiatives include partnering with leading travel trade shows, digital marketing campaigns on platforms like Expedia, and producing guides that highlight lesser-known destinations and experiences for different traveller types.

Government Support

The UK government has backed growth in inbound tourism through policies, funding and visa changes.

In 2019, the government’s Tourism Sector Deal committed £250 million in funds towards attracting more international visitors between 2020-2025. The government also extended its discounted VAT scheme for tourism businesses and eased visa requirements for visitors from key markets like China.

Most recently in the 2022 Spring Budget, the government announced it would cut Air Passenger Duty for domestic flights, a move expected to boost inbound travel. It also extended the welcome rate for Air Passenger Duty, where arrivals pay lower taxes, through 2023.

The UK Plans to Build Back Inbound Travel

In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic led to a 76% annual decline in visits and £22 billion loss for inbound tourism.

In 2021, arrivals were still down 75% compared to pre-pandemic levels. However, the government sees inbound tourism playing a crucial role in the post-pandemic economic recovery. Its Tourism Recovery Plan aims to return to 2019 visitor levels by 2023, and increase numbers further through 2025.

Key targets include bringing back major events and business conferences, boosting marketing in core markets like the US and Europe, and continuing to improve visa processes and travel access from growing markets like India.

While ongoing challenges like Brexit fees and travel restrictions stalled recovery in 2021, data suggests travel to the UK is rebounding in 2022. Policymakers hope that the government’s targeted strategy and initiatives like VisitBritain’s campaigns will bring inbound travel back to full strength over the next few years.

About Us

Based in Cornwall we’re the only full service destination management company for our region. Recommended partner of Visit Cornwall, the official tourism board, we work with tour operators, agents and individual group leaders offering it as part of complete packages that can include London, Southern England and the rest of the UK & Ireland.

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We’d be pleased to answer any questions you have or to discuss the possibility of creating bespoke travel products for you or your clients

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