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UK Tourist Forecast Data for 2016

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Overseas visitors to UK: visits and spend expected to rise by 4% in 2016

A major prediction forecasts that the number of overseas visitors to and their total spend in the UK will increase by as much as 4% in 2016 – find out why?

UK Tourist Market Insights

There’s no doubt about it, overseas visitor numbers in the UK are booming. As the world slowly but surely recovers from the economic shock of global recession that closed the previous decade and opened this one, Great Britain has proved itself to be a truly great destination for people throughout the world, as travellers continue to flock – and in ever increasing numbers – to UK shores.

Proof of this can be seen in the strong, optimistic prediction made by Visit Britain for overseas guest numbers in 2016 – a total 36.7 million visits resulting in a total £22.9bn in spending, which, if proved correct, would make for increases of 3.8% and 4.2% respectively on 2015’s figures.

Now, admittedly, unlike the recent London Olympics and Paralympics in 2012 or last year’s Rugby World Cup, there won’t be a major international sporting event held in the UK in 2016 (apart from those held annually, that is). However, the above prediction appears to have been made by considering other positive factors. For instance, one shouldn’t forget that 2016 is set to be a significant 12 months for the arts in Britain with the marking of significant anniversaries and milestones of a variety of major UK musical and literary figures, not least the 400th anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare(commonly felt to be the world’s greatest writer) and the 100th anniversary of the birth of Roald Dahl (commonly felt to be the world’s greatest children’s writer).

Moreover, further important cultural events that are sure to prove tourist highlights include the opening of the new wing of London’s Tate Modern in June, the launch of a full 10 new galleries by the Museum of Scotland and the debut in the West End of the doubtless soon-to-be blockbuster play Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.

All the same, there are caveats when it comes to predicting overseas visitor numbers to the UK for this year. Needless to say, the forecast doesn’t take into account any potential, unforeseen events that may disrupt travel to Britain or visitor preferences – that is, those associated with geopolitics, global or regional health scares and natural disasters. It’s worth noting too that security issues within – and without – Europe remain a concern, yet these don’t specifically appear to have severely tempered overseas travel, for business or leisure.

Additionally, it ought to be pointed out that the relative volatility in currency markets towards the end of 2015 (which has continued into 2016, partly due to uncertainty over the UK’s upcoming referendum on EU membership) means there is a degree of uncertainty in the prediction, ensuring that Visit Britain adds an addendum to it in the shape of a ‘forecast range’ – international visits to increase on 2015 figures by 1.5-5.5%; international visitor spend to increase by 1.5-6.5%.

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