Growth in the number of travels into the UK is expected to stagnate in 2018, following a series of terror attacks, according to research from World Travel Market London – a leading global event for the travel industry – released on Tuesday in London.
The attacks in London and Manchester mean that growth in those cities will lag behind the rates seen in other UK cities, reveals the top 100 City Destination Ranking WTM London Edition, by Euromonitor International.
The UK had 35.6 million inbound arrivals in 2016 and is expected to see strong growth in 2017.
“Brexit and the subsequent fall of the pound have had a major impact on the travel industry in the UK, with arrivals growing strongly by 5.2 per cent in 2017, while outbound departures are forecast to decelerate in 2017 as UK consumers have less money to spend abroad,” said report.
“With the terrorist attacks in London and Manchester, arrivals growth is expected to slow in 2018 to 2.6 per cent.”
The report predicted that London will see a growth of 3.4 per cent year-on-year in 2017, rising from 19.19 million inbound arrivals to 19.84 million.
Manchester, which had 1.2 million inbound arrivals in 2016, will see that figure grow by 3.7 per cent year-on-year in 2017.
Edinburgh – the second-ranked UK city with 1.6 million inbound arrivals – will grow at 4.8 per cent; Birmingham (1.2m) will grow by 4.4 per cent; Glasgow (688,000) will grow by 4.5 per cent.
Nonetheless, the report notes that London is relatively unscathed compared with other European cities hit by terrorists – especially Paris, which saw numbers fall after two high-profile attacks in 2015.
London is still expected to continue growing, reaching 22.34 million in 2020, and 25.80 million by 2025.
“It seems the size and nature of any attack, as well as the size of the city and local response, has a clear impact on travellers’ decision-making,” the report noted.
In the long-term, the report forecasts the UK will see 40.6 million inbound arrivals by 2020 – just surpassing VisitBritain’s target of 40 million by that date – thanks to strong inbound demand from Europe, North America and Asia because of the pound’s depreciation post-Brexit.
WTM London, Senior Director, Simon Press said: “Tourists are bound to take precautions when considering where to travel in the wake of an attack, but the robust response of Londoners and Mancunians this year has helped to mitigate damage to the tourism trade in those cities.
“This report does predict a lower growth rate next year but it is heartening to see that numbers will still rise despite terrorism, thanks to the resilience of those cities and campaigns by their tourist boards.”