The £66bn a year that international tourism is worth to the British economy “will only continue to grow”, said Michael Ellis, Minister for Arts, Heritage and Tourism, in a recent article for City A.M.
Now, I’m not usually one for quoting MPs, but it’s difficult not to be taken in by his optimism and goodwill for inbound tourism in the UK.
Ellis articulates what makes our “global country” such an attractive proposition to international visitors, noting the “beautiful landscapes, world-class culture, and unique heritage sites”.
The rousing words are just what we need as we approach the turn of another year and begin to assess the trends influencing the international market. For UK DMOs and attractions formulating 2019 marketing plans, these are the trends I think should shape your strategy:
1. Responsible/sustainable tourism
One of the challenges that DMOs and attractions face is balancing tourism with the protection of their local economy, environment, culture and people. Thankfully, this particular challenge looks set to ease in 2019 with responsible tourism now a top consideration for travellers.
ABTA research shows that almost 70% of people believe that travel companies should ensure their holidays help the local people and economy. You should look to promote the responsible tourism trend in 2019 by guiding travellers on how they can have a positive impact on the sites they visit.
2. Unique travel
Social media has done wonders for those people with wanderlust – often giving them the nudge they might need to make a trip a reality. But, instead of replicating their friends, they want a unique experience, which is more personal and, of course, looks good on social media.
A recent study by home insurance company Schofields Insurance revealed that two-fifths (40.1%) of millennials choose a travel spot based on its Instagrammability. People are even prepared to head into the wilderness to find that perfect shot which will have their followers asking: “Wow, where’s this?”.
3. Solo travel
For an increasing number of people, their smartphone is the only companion they need to go travelling. Hitwise, the UK’s largest online behavioural research tool, said that from analysing searches made by three million consumers in the UK, across all search engines, there was a 143% increase in “solo travel” searches over the past three years.
Here’s something: women are much more likely to travel alone than men, according to the same research study. Without any ties, solo travellers can see a greater number of unique places, experience more things, and take more pictures.
4. Authentic travel
Linked to the unique travel trend, people are no longer content with seeing places through the eyes of the tourist – they want to see what it means to live like a local. It’s also tied to responsible tourism – working with local people around their culture and ways of life is a more authentic way to travel.
For almost two thirds of travellers, experiences are now valued higher than material possessions, according to new data released by Booking.com. In 2019, travellers will be keen to pack in as many different and authentic experiences as they can, so that they come away from a trip with lasting memories, even if they’ve got nothing but pictures to show for it.
5. Adventure travel
Adventure travel has now become mainstream as an increasing number of travellers seek their adrenaline hit. Adventure holidays aren’t exactly new, but the desire to do something different means that more people – millennials, in particular – are opting for trips with endorphin-pumping highs like hiking and kayaking, then using them as tools for transformative self-improvement.
This isn’t an exhaustive list of the UK visitor trends which will have an impact on inbound travel in 2019, but they’ve been curated based on what I see as the most influential on the international market.The trends point to people spending more and more time outside of the major cities like London and experiencing other parts of the country as they go in search of unique, authentic experiences with a sense of adventure. #UKInbound Click To Tweet
The trends point to people spending more and more time outside of the major cities like London and experiencing other parts of the country as they go in search of unique, authentic experiences with a sense of adventure.
How are you set for a potential influx of international visitors? Find out how we can help you make the most of 2019’s inbound tourism trends. Just email me on firstname.lastname@example.org or give me a call on 0117 440 0500.
Simon is one of the founders of Digital Visitor and has over 20 years of marketing experience in the tourism sector, particularly with destinations and visitor attractions.