Destination UK & Ireland

UK & Ireland

The UK & Ireland’s tourism sectors are forever prospering. With beaming results from the past year, incredible developments in the pipeline and newsworthy industry updates, the destinations are in gear for further success, as Aleksandra Wood discovers.

Tourism is a burgeoning industry in the UK and Ireland, with record tourism spend having been documented in recent years from both domestic and international travellers. Tourists the world over are flocking to these exceptionally eclectic destinations to immerse themselves in cultures and hospitality unlike anything they have ever experienced before.

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“Although they cover an area one third the size of Texas, the British Isles offer an incredible diversity of landscape, culture and food,” area vice president and general manager, Hyatt Regency London – The Churchill, Arnaud De Saint-Exupery told TTG. “As tourists clock on to how easy it is to get around, we have seen international visitors plan more ‘micro trips’, using London as a launch pad to cities like Dublin, where they can visit the Open Gate Brewery or the regenerated Liberties district and Edinburgh.”

Regional cities and attractions such as Cambridge, Oxford, Bicester Village and Blenheim are finding themselves recurrently on travellers’ itineraries.

Hyatt Regency London – The Churchill has certainly noticed this, as affirmed by De Saint-Exupery: “At Hyatt we want to open hotels in locations where our guests want us to be, and we’ve received a great response to announcements regarding our openings in Edinburgh, Dublin and London.”

The nation has been moving forward with bold maneuvers through the many challenges presented by this intrepid industry, fortified by a stealthy performance during the past year, more notably, during the peak summer season.

Visits from overseas guests to the UK in Q3 of 2018 amounted to 10.8 million, with spending at a healthy level of $9.48 billion.

The forecast for 2019 is looking ever-productive for the UK, as the destination continues to invest heavily in a number of infrastructure advancements, including transport links for visitors wishing to travel between several locations within the country.

“The Elizabeth Line in London, set to open in autumn this year, will connect the city from west to east and serve 200 million people travelling for both business and leisure,” De Saint-Exupery exclusively revealed.

“Construction is also due to commence this year on the high-speed railway, HS2, opening up opportunities for hotel brands to establish a presence in cities they may have previously overlooked, and making business between regional and capital cities easier,” he added.

The tourism buzz in the UK is living up to its expectations, as VisitBritain recently announced that the country is expected to welcome an influx of tourists from Japanese and Chinese markets, reaching 270,000 visitors.

Director, Visit Britain, Patricia Yates disclosed: “Japan is an important market for VisitBritain and we want the UK to be the number one destination in Europe for Japanese visitors, so it is encouraging to see the expected growth this year.”

The UK/Japanese Season of Culture 2019-2020, a combined arts and cultural programme organised by the British Council, will provide UK artists and their Japanese partners with opportunities to share state-of-the-art digital technology and showcase the best of UK and Japanese creativity in the run-up to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics.

To coincide with this, Japan will also stage a parallel cultural programme in the UK.

Moreover, longer-term forward booking data revealed that bookings from China to the UK were up 31 per cent from January to June this year, compared to the same period in 2018.

VisitBritain is expecting 483,000 visits from China in 2019, with Chinese visitors set to spend more than $1.32 billion this year, thus moving it well into the UK’s top 10 markets.

“We want to provide a world-class experience and welcome for Chinese visitors who travel here. We’re building on the growth we have seen, working with partners, such as British Airways and Ctrip, to convert the inspiration to visit into bookings and making it easier to visit and explore more of the UK through regional gateways,” Yates remarked.

THE LUCK OF THE IRISH

Let us not leave concealed what ought to be uncovered; Ireland witnessed a record year in terms of overseas tourism to the island in 2018, with revenue generated by international visitors soaring to $6.98 billion, delivered by some 11.2 million visitors.

“Particularly welcome in today’s figures is the continued strong performance from North America, with an increase of 13.1 per cent,” CEO, Tourism Ireland, Niall Gibbons stated. “A number of factors are working in our favour, including more airline seats than ever before, from more gateways across the US and Canada.”

Indeed, connectivity to the island has seen a noteworthy improvement, as the nation’s flag carrier recently commenced services to Seattle and Philadelphia in the US, whilst Air Canada has launched new routes between Toronto and Shannon, and Montreal and Dublin.

Ireland also welcomed its first ever direct flight from the Asia-Pacific region, with Cathay Pacific’s new service from Hong Kong to Dublin. Overall, more than 591,000 direct, one-way airline seats to Ireland were available during the summer of 2018, setting a new record for the island.

Building on the momentum, Ireland’s new Tourism Action Plan 2019-2020 outlines key actions that will underpin the growth of the sector in the coming years. In line with this is the launch of Tourism Ireland’s ‘Fill Your Heart with Ireland’ campaign in January, which was rolled out in over 20 markets around the globe.

Gibbons elucidated: “Our new campaign will encourage visitors to travel off-peak. It will feature locations that have been less visited by overseas visitors and will also highlight outdoor activities like cycling, walking and kayaking.

“We are confident that our new campaign will set the island of Ireland apart from our competitor destinations and help deliver another record year for overseas tourism in 2019,” he concluded.

When it comes to touristic appeal, the UK and Ireland mean business, which is evident from their overflowing agendas for 2019. And although seemingly isolated between the Atlantic Ocean and the North Sea, these touristic highfliers are more outstanding than ever.