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April 14, 2009

UNITED KINGDOM TRAVEL TO THE UNITED STATES

2008 Ends on a Positive Note

  • United Kingdom bookings to the United States ended 2008 on a positive note, countering the trend of declines registered from other countries in fourth quarter 2008.
  • United Kingdom tour operators reported (as of January/February 2009) that 2008 bookings were up one to three percent compared to 2007.

Winter Bookings Increase

  • United Kingdom tour operators reported that bookings to the United States for the winter 2008/2009 catalog period were to be on par with bookings in the winter 2007/2008.
  • In contrast, 54 percent of trade reported a decrease in bookings.

Summer Bookings

  • United Kingdom bookings for the summer 2009 catalog period (at the time of the January/February 2009 survey) were also reported to be on par with bookings in the summer 2008.
  • However, 46 percent of the trade reported a decrease in bookings.

Recommendations to Grow Bookings

  • United Kingdom tour operators indicated that the top deterrents to bookings were clearly the impact of the economic downturn in the United Kingdom and global economy.
  • However, trade, as in the past, also pointed out that competition from other destinations continues to be a deterrent for bookings.
  • U.S. entry policies, especially the requirement to implement the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA), were also registered as deterrents.

Actual United Kingdom Arrivals to the United States: Annual 2008 and Fourth Quarter 2008

  • Actual annual 2008 arrivals from the United Kingdom totaled 4.6 million, increasing over one percent when compared to 2007.
  • Fourth quarter 2008 arrivals from the United Kingdom totaled 1.1 million, down 11 percent compared to fourth quarter 2007.
    • In October 2008, United Kingdom arrivals totaled 435,349, down five percent when compared to October 2007.
    • Visitation slowed in November 2008, totaling only 327,551, decreasing 14 percent when compared to November 2007.
    • In December 2008, arrivals from the United Kingdom were 356,221, down nearly 14 percent when compared to December 2007.

Implications for Differences

  • Travel operators’ bookings data primarily reflect leisure travel.
  • Further analysis of actual United Kingdom arrivals to the United States reveals that major declines in business travel attributed to overall visitation declines in the last quarter of 2008 and the first part of 2009.
  • The Barometer respondent mix changed in 2008 with an increase in online booking operators, thus potentially affecting comparative results to the previous year.

COMING SOON:

An updated United Kingdom Travel Trade Barometer 1 (survey collection in March/April 2009) will soon be released. This Barometer will report first quarter 2009 bookings along with projected bookings through the third quarter 2009.

The U.S. Department of Commerce released actual 2008 visitation to the United States on March 24, 2009. January and February 2009 visitation data will be released throughout April.

BACKGROUD AND SOURCE:

Travel Market Insights (www.travelmi.com) conducts the United Kingdom Travel Trade Barometer in conjunction with the U.S. the U.S. Department of Commerce, Office of Travel and Tourism Industries (OTTI). OTTI developed the Barometer program which is conducted with support from the U.S. Commercial Service – United Kingdom and the U.K. Visit USA Association.

The Travel Trade Barometer survey is conducted on a quarterly basis in Germany, the United Kingdom, Canada, and Mexico and is available through subscription. Additional information on bookings, motivators, and deterrents for travel to the United States are included in reports sent to subscribers. Specific (proprietary) destination data is also available through a subscription.

For more information on the Travel Barometer Program, please visit http://tinet.ita.doc.gov/research/programs/barometer/index.html

CONTACT:

U.S. Department of Commerce, International Trade Administration
Office of Travel and Tourism Industries (OTTI)
1401 Constitution Avenue N.W., Room 1003
Washington, D.C.  20230
Phone: (202) 482-0140
Fax: (202) 482-4279
Email: Otti@trade.gov


1 The United Kingdom Travel Trade Barometer is a qualitative survey designed to collect input from active United Kingdom Tour operators. The Barometer program is a partnership with the U.S. Travel Association and Travel Market Insights.