UK to face increased competition for tourists - Heathrow Airport News

Airport news for Heathrow on 05/01/2009.

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VisitBritain, the national tourism organization, is predicting that overseas arrivals will drop by 0.7 per cent in 2009, to 31.7 million, and that there will be a slight increase in tourist spending, of 2.4 per cent, up to £16.7 billion.

In 2007 both arrival and spending figures were largely unchanged from 2006. VisitBritain has forecasted that for 2008, inbound tourist spending will reach £16.4 billion, which is an increase of 2.5 per cent over 2007, while the number of visitors will fall by 2.7 per cent, down to 31.9 million.

The tourism agency has said that 2009 will see an even more competitive environment for attracting tourists.

Of the factors influencing tourist arrivals, the most significant will be the prolonged and deepening economic downturn around the world, VisitBritain noted.

The UK government may also be requiring visas from nationals of additional counties this year, including Brazil, Malaysia and South Africa, which would also be likely to impact arrival numbers.

A further factor is the price of a UK visa. It is already more expensive than a Schengen visa and the government is considering increasing the cost, creating an even greater price differential.

Some airlines are reducing service to the UK as well. Japan Airlines is cutting its Osaka-Heathrow service, British Airways is reducing its Heathrow-London flight frequency and Virgin Atlantic is cutting one of its daily New York-London services.

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