Supplementary written evidence submitted by UKinbound




Promoting Britain Abroad

Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee Inquiry

Additional Written Submission by UKinbound

Friday 11 March 2022


2022 Inbound Tourism Forecast

On February 16 VisitBritain updated its estimate for total inbound tourism in 2021. The full year 2021 is for 7.4 million visits, 33% down on 2020 and 18% of the 2019 level; and £5.5 billion to be spent by inbound tourists, 11% down on 2020 and 19% of the 2019 level[1].


On February 16 VisitBritain also updated its inbound forecast for 2022. For the full calendar year, inbound visits are forecast to increase to 21.1 million, and spending to £16.9 billion. These are 52% and 59% respectively of the visits and spend levels seen in 2019[2].


International competitiveness


Research by the World Travel & Tourism Council[3] shows that 2022 global travel and tourism GDP will be $8 trillion, 12.3% lower than 2019. Europe is expected to be down 17.3% and the US is expected to be up 1.1%. In comparison the UK’s travel and tourism GDP in 2022 is expected to be $179 billion, down 24.6% on 2019. The UK is recovering at a slower pace than Europe, the US and the global average.


In January 2022 VisitBritain launched a £10 million[4] campaign to encourage international tourists to visit the UK, however in contrast -


Private sector marketing of Britain Abroad – In 2019, the UK’s inbound tour operators, of which there are about 160 in the UK, spent roughly £98 million marketing the UK internationally. In contrast, in 2022 these businesses plan to spend roughly £45 million. This represents a 54% reduction in marketing spend in 2022 compared to 2019[9]. These businesses saw their cash reserves decimated during the pandemic and although bookings are coming in for 2022, the money for these will not be received until customers travel later in the year. Businesses therefore have had to reduce their international marketing spend.



Regional connectivity

The inbound visitor economy is valuable to every region in the UK. Each was directly impacted by the lack of international visitors in 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic. VisitBritain figures show that inbound spend declined to 22% of 2019 levels in 2020 and 19% of 2019 levels in 2021[10]. Regional expenditure loss figures are not available. However, using VisitBritain’s 2020 and 2021 figures, we can estimate regional losses. 



2020/2021 expenditure lost

2019 expenditure


£25 billion (1)

£15.73 billion (1)


£4 billion (3)

£2.54 billion (3)


£818 million (9)

£514.63 million (9)

Northern Ireland

£354 million (12)

£222.69 million (12)

South East

£4.1 billon (2)

£2.58 billion (2)

South West

£2 billion (5)

£1.31 billion (5)

North East

£586 million (11)

£368.63 million (11)

North West

£2.5 billion (4)

£1.62 billion (4)


£1 billion (8)

£637.37 million (8)

West Midlands

£1.6 billion (6)

£1.05 billion (6)

East Midlands

£737 million (10)

£463.72 million (10)

East of England

£1.6 billion (7)

£1.02 billion (7)


London remains a vital draw for international visitors – 73% of those interested in visiting Britain want to come to London, 52% to Scotland, 37% to elsewhere in England and 27% to Wales[11].


Given that inbound visitors spend five times as much as commuters, they are vital to the reviving not only of London but cities across the UK. However, key barriers to travelling outside of London include -

-          1 in 3 (29%) international arrivals only visit London as they don’t know what else there is to see[12]

-          1 in 5 (19%) international arrivals only visit London believing other places are too far from the capital[13]


The cost of train travel is also a barrier for international visitors looking to travel to locations outside of London. Referenced in the oral evidence session on Tuesday 8 March 2022 by Joss Croft from UKinbound, the BritRail Pass is a more affordable alternative for international travellers, however it is only available to buy prior to arrival in the UK. Prices start from roughly £91 for an adult two-day BritRail Pass[14]. However, if a visitor decided to do a last-minute return trip and had not purchased the pass, they will be faced with high train ticket prices, which discourages them from traveling outside of the capital. An off-peak return ticket on the day of travel from London to Edinburgh would cost around £136[15].


VisitBritain evidence suggests that more money will stay in a region if they have an international airport. International arrivals using London, East and Southeast gateways have the shortest lengths of stay, while those using gateways in the North East, North West and South West are most likely to be staying for longer than seven nights. Holiday visitors using England’s regional airports typically have the longest stay, while those using rail record the shortest[16].



Improving the UK’s visa system and making them more price competitive would make the UK a more attractive destination to visit.


Currently a Schengen visa is €80 and allows travel to 26 countries [17], however the UK five-year visa costs £655[18]. In comparison, an Australian 10-year visa is AUD 1,085[19], and the United States charges Chinese visitors $160 for a 10-year visa[20].


[1] VisitBritain

[2] VisitBritain

[3] Forecast: Global T&T GDP Recovery, World Travel & Tourism Council, 2022

[4] UK Government,

[5] Tourism Ireland

[6] Hosteltur

[7]Atout France

[8] Visit Scotland,retail%20and%20tourism%20across%20Scotland

[9] UKinbound survey undertaken January/February 2022. Figures from 44 tour operator received. Averages used to equate rough spend of 160 UK tour operators.

[10] VisitBritain

[11] Foresight issue 117, VisitBritain, 2013

[12] Foresight issue 117, VisitBritain, 2013

[13] Foresight issue 117, VisitBritain, 2013


[15] National Rail, viewed 10 March 2022

[16] Foresight issue 117, VisitBritain, 2013

[17] Schengen Visa

[18] UK Government

[19] Australian Government

[20] US Government