VisitBritain’s original record-setting forecasts for 2020, released in December 2019, were for inbound visits to the UK to grow by 2.9% and associated spending to grow by 6.6%.
Final ONS International Passenger Survey data for the full year 2019 has since been released, showing there were 40.9 million visits to the UK in 2019, with a spend of £28.4 billion – meaning the original forecast growth implied 42.1m visits and £30.3bn spending.
That was of course pre-COVID.
The revised inbound outlook was updated this week, taking into account the near-total shutdown in international tourism to and from the UK. The new forecast reflects a snapshot in time based on various assumptions (including that there will be no widely-available vaccine for the rest of this year, no further UK-wide lockdown, and near-zero interntational travel, all of which are still in flux).
The forecast under these conditions is for a decline of 73% in visits to 11.0 million, and a decline of 79% in spending to £6.0 billion – a loss compared with the pre-COVID forecast of 30.7 million visits and £24.0 billion spending.
When it comes to domestic tourism this year, the forecast is currently set at £46.8bn in spending, down 49% compared to 2019, made up of £12.6bn from overnight tourism and £34.2bn from day trips.