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2020 predicted to be record year for UK inbound tourism

VisitBritain, the UK’s national tourism agency, is predicting that spending by overseas visitors will reach a record £26.6 billion in 2020, up 6.6% on 2019, while overseas visits to the UK are forecast to rise to 39.7 million, up 2.9% on last year.


The figures for 2020 build upon VisitBritain’s latest forecast for the full year 2019, which shows that the value of inbound visitors’ spending is set to grow by 9.1% to £25 billion and the number of inbound visits by 1.7% to 38.5 million.

If realised, this would be a new record for spending, beating the £24.5 billion achieved in 2017. It would be the second highest number of visits seen after the record set in 2017.


The forecast assumes that Brexit will take place on January 31st, that the UK will proceed smoothly to a transition period, that there will be no major disruptions to travel, and that there will be no major negative impacts that would discourage significant numbers of potential visitors. The forecast also assumes that there will not be a no-deal Brexit and the UK will avoid associated problems with border queues. 

The forecast assumes no major disruptions or fears of disruptions as the UK approaches the end of the transition period at the end of December 2020. It is also assumed that there will be no unforeseen major events in 2020 that disrupt overall international tourism or travel to Britain in particular, e.g. terrorism, health scares or natural disasters.

The pound is forecast to continue to be weak throughout the medium term, although the exact path of the exchange rate is a source of uncertainty in the forecast. The value of the pound will depend on a number of factors, especially the Brexit outcome, but also monetary policy in the UK, USA and Europe and the strength of the UK, EU and US economies.


The global economy, and in particular the economic performance of the UK’s main source markets, are always important drivers of visitor numbers. While the outlook is still for growth in 2020, the global economy has slowed since its peak in 2017/18. Oil price fluctuations are, of course, also a factor that affect international travel.

As ever, there are both upside and downside risks to the forecast. In the last few forecasts, risks were judged clearly to the downside. For 2020, the possibility of Brexit related disruptions aside, they are judged more balanced, weighted only slightly to the downside. It is possible that the global economy will slow quicker than expected – but also possible that the European economy could recover from its current sluggish growth rate.

Janet Redler, Chief Executive of Janet Redler Travel & Tourism, said: “It’s great to see that the predictions for inbound travel to the UK are on the up. After some years of uncertainty, it looks like Brexit will soon be complete without major disruption and, barring any unforeseen global events, that travel to the UK will continue to grow.

“At Janet Redler Travel & Tourism, we have a packed schedule of tours for 2020 and are already planning for 2021. The UK is a first class destination for leisure and business travel, and we look forward to welcoming many more groups, families and individuals to our wonderful country.”

If you or your group would like to enjoy a tailor-made tour of the UK with Janet Redler Travel & Tourism, please do contact our friendly team today. 

Tags: Inbound tourism  UK  VisitBritain  

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