According to the Office for National Statistics on Friday, the number of foreign visitors to the UK increased by only 2 per cent in the three months after the Brexit vote in June. This falls short of forecasts that foreigners would seize the advantageous weakness of the pound to visit Britain. The modest increase was in line with the long-term growth of the tourism industry, and earlier reports of a “record breaking wave of foreigners” were not seasonally adjusted. The ONS also reported a 2 per cent fall in holidaymakers, offset by a 3 per cent increase in business travellers.
Kurt Janson, director at Tourism Alliance remarked that the statistics were “counter to the anecdotal stuff we’ve been receiving”. He also suggested that the period recorded by the ONS may have been delayed by a spike in bookings, as visitors waited for the outcome of the Brexit vote before making plans. Anecdotes had previously suggested that “inquiry and booking rates shot up” after the referendum in June.
Hopes for a rise in ‘staycations’ prompted by the increased costs of going abroad with the weak pound were also dashed by the ONS report that UK residents made 7 per cent more trips abroad in the third quarter. The data seems to demonstrate the continued confidence of British consumers in the economy post-Brexit.