Tourism visits in the UK are forecast to reach 36.7 million for 2016 and it will have had a welcome boost from Andy Murray’s recent Wimbledon champion win for the second time.
2016 has already been significant for arts with a number of Britain’s literary legends celebrating anniversaries and milestones, including the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death and the 100th anniversary of Roald Dahl’s birth.
The range of tourism trends in the UK include increased importance of mobile technology, empowering consumers and allowing them to make last minute decisions on a wide range of leisure activities. More recent developments are FOMO, the ‘fear of missing out’ and the rise of the ‘individualocracy’ the demand for control and simplicity are important too.
Top tourism trends in the UK
1. VFR (visiting friends or relatives) – constrained budgets and more life events and greater perception of time pressure will see people maximising their leisure time on VFR trips, aiming to gain a richer experience with their family, creating a new type of holiday in the UK.
2. Active tourism – the desire to be active and healthy is driving an increase in active leisure trips. People do seem to have more active lives in both leisure and holidays; there’s an assumption that we should be active and generation of health conscious older people. People also feel they can ‘de-stress’ through adventure experiences.
3. Skills tourism – this is driven by both cultural capital and desire to acquire new skills. More than half of consumers in England (56%) say that ‘trying new things’ is important to them, and two-thirds (67%) say that art or culture is important to them.
4. Health tourism – health consciousness is driven by increased pressures at work and home, as well as sustained societal focus on wellbeing; the countryside will benefit from health and active tourism; a further point of difference is the perception that modern lifestyles are ‘too easy’ or sedentary so there’s a drive for consumers to push themselves.
5. Rural tourism – the rural destinations is quintessentially English –it’s a unique offer for UK tourism. However, there’s also an apparent divergence in age structures of different regions and geographies, a key trend here is the rapid ageing of rural areas, whereas cities remain relatively youthful.
6. Seaside tourism – some resorts have been unable to compete with a pure beach offer and the more reliable summer weather that some overseas locations can offer has been a threat; yet many resorts have been able to successfully adapt and to re-invent to attract new audiences.
7. Urban tourism – regeneration in many cities and an increase in the number of attractions has propelled the growth of urban tourism; this is crucial for the younger market; time poor and cash strapped younger consumers will look to maximise their leisure spend.
8. Leisure tourism – this has been impacted on the changing shape of the family, the rising number of older people and grandparents’ increasing involvement in childcare, and also in the diverse structures and types of family; the older generation will be generally more affluent and far more leisure focused than previous generations of older people
9. Consumer tourism – England is developing an incredible diversity of product – food, wine, different activities – it will continue to be attractive, and people are taking pride in this – but consumers expect discounts despite the recent economic recovery.
10. Green tourism – is a driver but you have to be selling the experience and the attraction, this is also affected by wider trends such as ever changing work-life balance or time pressure.
In summary, a social trend to watch is that, in three decades time, there will be more than 9 million over 75s in England (twice as many as there are in 2016). Accommodation and travel options that can cater for people with reduced mobility will be in great demand; they’re still keen to go on holiday but potentially reluctant (or unable) to travel far.
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