UK tourism provides major boost to post Brexit vote economy

A strong summer season for the UK’s holiday parks and campsites helped the country’s economy grow by 0.5% in the three months after the Brexit vote.

The services sector, which includes tourism-related business, grew by 0.8% overall from July to September, following the vote to leave the EU.

This growth, reported the BBC, is higher than was initially estimated (0.3%) and showed that there was “little evidence of a pronounced effect in the immediate aftermath of the vote,” the Office of National Statistics said.

With the fall in the value of the pound making holidays abroad more expensive and the ever-increasing threat of tourism on the continent, more people chose to holiday in the UK this year. And 2017 looks set to be another bumper year for the so-called ‘staycation’. Although this could mean good news for the UK’s holiday park sector, it could also result in increased competition between parks and a possible increase in prices for customers.

Fistral beach in summer Credit: Dune Dreams PhotographyMore visitor records tumble

News of the economy’s growth figures comes just days after Visit Britain and Visit England announced another record month for UK tourism, with August seeing its highest ever numbers of overseas visitors.

There were 3.8million visits from overseas tourists in August, up 2% year on year, with strong growth (13%) from North America highlighted. So far this calendar year inbound visits total some 25 million, a 3% rise on 2015 and a record year to date, with visit spend at £14.6billion.

Tourism Minister Tracey Crouch welcomed the news: “2016 has been an incredible year for British tourism and underlined our status as one of the top visitor destinations in the world.

“We continue to attract a record number of tourists from across the globe, which is not only great news for the sector, but the whole economy.

“We are absolutely committed to supporting the industry, and our Tourism Action Plan and £40 million Discover England Fund will help it grow further and spread the economic benefits across the country.”

British Hospitality AssociationGovernment pressured to reduce tourism VAT

The British Hospitality Association, along with MPs and many members of the industry have been campaigning for the rate of tourism VAT to be brought into line with competitor destinations within the European Union.

The UK is one of only four countries not to take advantage of a reduced rate, allowed under EU rules in a limited number of areas.

Campaigners say that this means that British families choosing to holiday at home or international visitors choosing a break in the UK pay almost three times as much VAT compared to a French or German break and twice as much as Italy or Spain.

During a debate in Parliament earlier this month, Nigel Huddlestone, co-chair of the APPG for the visitor economy, said it was wrong to assume that Brexit and a weak pound would significantly bolster the domestic and inbound tourism sectors.

Given that more than 60% of overseas holiday visitors and in excess of 70% of business visitors to the UK last year were from the EU, Mr Huddleston strongly warned against any additional burdens or restrictions on travel, the BHA reported.

Furthermore, although the weak pound has made the UK comparatively more affordable, he added that the UK remains an expensive place to visit and suffers as a result in the global tourism market.

Several MPs, including Caroline Lucas, Margaret Ritchie and Rebecca Pow, all raised the question of cutting VAT on tourism during the debate.

Tourism Minister Tracey Crouch, told MPs that all issues raised were being considered by her department and that she wanted to maintain her “productive dialogue” with the industry.

Are you thinking ahead to the 2017 season? Do you want your holiday park or campsite to stand out from the crowd in what is expected to be a congested market? Speak to Pitched today about a new website, on-line booking software, holiday brochures and digital marketing services. Call us on 01726 418118, drop us an e-mail or fill in a contact form.

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