Domestic tourism industry set for further growth in 2017-18

British Tourism & Travel Show’s industry survey reports continued rise in domestic tourism

The domestic tourism industry was out in force at the British Tourism & Travel Show last month – checking out the latest offerings from 260 leading visitor attractions, venues, destinations, hotels, transport providers, associations and desination marketing organisations (DMO) from across the UK and Ireland.
More than 2,600 delegates turned out for the 2017 show, which is the largest domestic tourism showcase of the year.
David McGuire, Group Event Director, said: “We are delighted with the event this year. Following extensive consultation with the industry, we worked tirelessly to deliver a top-quality exhibition for the domestic tourism industry.  
“We had an inspirational and informative range of keynote speakers, plus a diverse selection of exhibitors, and provided an unrivalled opportunity for our exhibitors and visitors to build long-standing business relationships.
“This is a really exciting time for British and Irish tourism. Yes, there are challenges ahead but also plenty of potential for growth – reflected both at the show and in our latest survey results.
“Visitor bookings are up and expected to stay up, with more people holidaying closer to home, while inbound tourism is enjoying a record high – with more overseas visitors than ever before.”
The second Domestic Tourism Industry Snapshot Survey was completed before and during the event by travel and tour operators, DMOs, visitor attractions, destinations and hotels.  Its findings show continued positive growth for the sector and upbeat optimism for the opportunities ahead.
The survey found that 67% of respondents saw an increase in domestic visitor numbers and bookings in 2016, and 57% who completed the survey think that customer spending habits will improve over the next year.  78% are feeling either very or fairly optimistic about the future of the domestic travel trade.
The general consensus is that Brexit will continue to have an influence on future consumer spending (with mixed opinions on the actual impact of the Brexit vote on business’ prospects). 
When asked specifically about the Brexit vote: 39% said last year’s referendum result had no discernible impact on their business, while 28% reported a positive impact.  The remaining 33%, many of whom also cater to the outbound tourism market, said it was already having a negative effect. Many respondents commented that it may be “too early to tell.”
As you might expect, value for money, experience and location (in that order) top the list of the three main factors their customers consider when booking an outing or trip.  Culture, accessibility catering, and being family friendly are next down the list.
An increase in staycations, more last minute bookings, a rise in inbound tourism (from China, the US and Canada, for example), a greater focus on experiential holidays and breaks, a rise in digitisation, more away days, and exploring lesser known locations outside of London, have been identified as some of the key trends to watch, among others.

Show highlights

From coastal retreats to heritage historic houses and big city attractions, this year’s British Tourism & Travel Show featured the best of what the British Isles has to offer.
Highlights included a revamped Historic Houses and Gardens area, the new Accessibility Clinic, and returning regional pavilions from Experience Scotland; Tourism South East; Visit Wales; and Tourism Ireland – each offering a wealth of new packages, ideas and inspiration for a range of group trips and tours.
The number and quality of visitors in attendance has led many exhibiting companies to already rebook for the next edition in 2018. Among them are Warner Leisure Hotels, Hilton, Visit Liverpool, Encore Tickets, Greatdays Travel Group, Lucketts Travel, Roeville Reservation Software, Norman Allen Group Travel, Knowsley Safari, Devon’s Top Attractions, and Choice Hotels.
John M Roe, Managing Director at Roeville Reservation Software, said: “British Tourism & Travel Show 2017 was a cracking show and again provided a great opportunity to meet existing customers and strengthen the Roeville brand. We were also surprised by the number of new visitors and it was a pleasure to introduce them to our great line-up of coach hire and tour reservation products.”
TV presenter Julia Bradbury, celebrity zookeeper Benjamin Mee, and senior representatives from TripAdvisor, Euromonitor International, and Travelzoo drew in the crowds over the two days.
Key issues and opportunities facing the domestic tourism sector, including Brexit, online bookings, new itinerary ideas, legislation, social media and the future of domestic tours, were discussed in exclusive Keynotes and panel sessions.

Big name attendees 

Top level travel organisers and tour operators who attended the show over the two days included: Acorne, Albatross Travel Group, British Airways Holidays, Daily Mail Travel, David Urquhart Travel, Great Rail Journeys, Heritage Railway Industry, JAC Travel, Johnsons Coach Travel, Kuoni Group Travel Experts, London Tourist Coach Operators Association, Marchants Coaches, National Holidays, Newmarket Holidays, Rondo Travel, Saga Holidays, Shearings Holidays, Titan Travel, Travelzoo, Virgin Trains, and Woods Travel.
The British Tourism & Travel Show returns to the NEC Birmingham on 21-22 March 2018.

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