Record year for UK leisure, predicts report

The British leisure industry could be set for a record year with a substantial increase in both home and international visitors planning holidays in the UK, according to a new report.

The Barclays Corporate Banking report, Destination UK: driving growth in the UK Hospitality and Leisure Sector reveals the 2017 holiday and leisure preferences of almost 10,000 guests from the UK, continental Europe, the US, Middle East, Asia and Australia.

Among the 63 per cent of international holidaymakers who said they are more interested in holidaying in the UK than this time last year, 31 per cent cited the weaker pound. 

Greater spending power (30 per cent) was also cited as a key reason why overseas visitors were more interested in coming to the UK in 2017.

Nearly a third (30 per cent) of UK holidaymakers expect to spend more of their holiday time in the UK this year. The convenience of holidaying at home is the primary draw. Half of UK respondents choosing a UK break described the familiarity of food, language and travel options as making the UK ‘hassle free’ with 31 per cent now more aware of UK holiday options. Nearly four in ten respondents (38 per cent) of those citing cost as a factor behind a UK break said the weaker pound made holidays in the UK preferable to those abroad, and 39 per cent said a domestic holiday represents better value for money in 2017.

The research reveals that the average British budget for UK breaks is £800 with over a fifth (22 per cent) of holidaymakers planning to spend more than £1000 on their UK getaways. During their staycations, Brits also expect to spend an average of £309 on accommodation, £152 on dining out and £121 on shopping, if they were to spend time holidaying in the UK this year.

Mike Saul, head of hospitality and leisure at Barclays, said: “2017 looks set to be a strong year for the British hospitality sector with both domestic and international visitors increasingly intent on spending more time here.

The study also showed  that nearly a quarter (24 per cent) of those who said they would be less likely to visit the UK post-Brexit cited worries about onward travel to other European destinations. This was especially important for guests from Australia (44 per cent) who are potentially looking to combine their visit with multiple European destinations owing to the longer travel distance.

Visas are also a concern as of the 10 per cent of international tourists who said they are less interested in visiting the UK today than 12 months ago- nearly 1 in 5 (19 per cent) cite this as a worry.

Younger UK consumers are more interested in a high-tech approach to the leisure sector than older consumers. Over a third (36 per cent) of 18-34s would be more likely to use a bar that invested in automated drinks dispensing, compared to just six per cent of the 55 and overs. Younger consumers are also more comfortable with automated ordering in restaurants, with 43 per cent of 18-34s saying they would be more likely to use such a restaurant compared to 14 per cent of the 55 and overs.

The current trend towards upmarket cinemas and bowling centres serving alcohol are also more popular with younger consumers. Nearly a third (30 per cent) of 18-34s said they would be more likely to use a cinema that served alcohol, compared to half of all consumers 55+ who said that it would put them off. Regions such as London where this trend is most established, were much more likely to be interested (37 per cent) than guests from other regions such as the East of England where only one in ten (17 per cent) would be more likely to visit a cinema that offered alcohol.

Saul added: “Our research points to clear differences in preferences between different ages of traveller with regards to tech-driven innovations. Offering guests tailored experiences will be key to success for operators in the UK hospitality and leisure sector in 2017.”

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