Since the UK controversially voted to leave the European Union, the government has still been unable to make much progress actually implementing this action. However, since the day after the result of the vote was announced we’ve seen some major changes in terms of the British tourism industry.
Most of the changes stem from the fact that the pound has been weaker against other currencies and shows little sign of getting stronger any time soon. As a result of the political pressure on the value of our currency, exchanging GBP for other currencies is more expensive and it costs British citizens more to get the same amount of foreign money. The impact of this is that less people are heading abroad for holidays, opting instead to travel within the country where their money can go further.
When people choose to do this, they’re finding that UK tourist attractions are even more busy than expected thanks to the opposite effect being created in other countries. A cheaper pound makes travelling to the UK from foreign countries more affordable and appealing, so the 8 months since Brexit have seen greater numbers of tourists than usual coming into the UK to visit.
Another factor influencing this has been the increased global interest in the UK as a result of news coverage regarding Brexit. Combined with the fact that the pound has already been steadily falling in value for a number of years, and the tourism industry has grown year-on-year since 2010, it’s no surprised that these factors have all been compounded.
On the other hand, this does have a downside for the industry since a lot of the coverage has been focused on why the decision was made by so many British voters to leave the EU. The perception of the UK as a friendly nation may have been affected, especially in some European countries, and increased feelings of tension might put off tourists.
Ongoing political and social uncertainty is also a major factor for businesses who invest in corporate travel to the UK. This type of tourism has not grown since the Brexit announcement and in fact it shows signs of being reduced in future, since businesses are looking for stability and predictability.
In future, it’s hard to say whether this temporary boom in domestic tourism will actually be able to continue. The actions of the government will certainly play a part in this over the coming year, and the UK’s reputation as a desirable destination for foreign travellers may not escape unscathed from a messy Brexit process, but as the cost of travelling abroad for UK residents is likely to increase further, the result is hard to predict.