In 2019, inbound tourism was worth £4.25 billion to the UK economy during this Christmas period. In a recent survey of its UK tour operators, accommodation providers, and attraction members conducted prior to the latest Omicron restrictions, 89% of respondents predicted that international arrivals and visitor numbers would be lower in November/December than in 2019.

UK inbound has released stark new figures indicating that its members anticipate a 75% drop in international visitors in November and December compared to 2019.

Four in five of these businesses expect to be down more than 75 percent, indicating that, despite the removal of many restrictions at UK borders, the country does not anticipate an influx of international visitors before Christmas.

The survey also inquired as to whether international clients had cancelled a trip to the UK in November or December 2021, and if so, why.

The top reason given was to postpone their visit until 2022, but COVID-19 case rates in the UK and testing requirements were also mentioned. Additional research was conducted to determine how the lifting of restrictions has affected inbound tour operators and destination management companies based in the United Kingdom, who, along with other intermediaries, brought in more than 60% of all international visitors prior to the pandemic.

These companies reported that their revenue for 2021 is expected to be 93% lower than in 2019. Joss Croft, chief executive of UKinbound, commented on the findings: “Prior to the announcement of the latest Omicron restrictions, the inbound tourism industry was already facing a difficult winter.”

“With annual revenues down 93% and international visitors expected to drop 75% during a critical time of year, Christmas, businesses are skating on thin ice.”

“Additionally, the latest restrictions have sent shockwaves through our industry,” he continued, “and we will need to see what the implications are for travel and health, but inevitably, fragile consumer confidence will be dented.”

“We were seeing green shoots, and our members were reporting an increase in inquiries for 2022, but cancellations for December and early next year are already beginning to come in.”


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