London remains the key driving force behind growth in the UK’s tourism industry but increase in visitor numbers and spending across several other regions is said to be closing the gap, according to a new report.
The report produced by national law firm Irwin Mitchell and the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR), provides an estimate of Gross Value Added growth and job creation within key cities across the UK.
It features specific analysis of the tourism and leisure industry, and said the former has been the fastest growing sector in the UK in terms of employment since 2010.
It also revealed that while London led the way in terms of visitor spending, the North East experienced the highest growth across the period with a 52% rise in spending by visitors. It was also revealed that the East Midlands, East of England and Northern Ireland also attracted more visitors.
Looking ahead, the report made several recommendations regarding how growth in tourism and leisure could be sustained. These included employing people who speak an array of languages and also taking steps to cater for different religious and cultural needs.
In order to shift the focus from London, it added that local governments across the UK should invest in improving tour parties and ensuring online information is available in a range of languages.
Victoria Brackett, chief executive of Irwin Mitchell’s business legal services division, said: “There are plenty of reasons to be optimistic. The sector is growing at a steady rate and consumer confidence is generally on the rise and people generally having more disposable income to spend on themselves.”
Josie Dent, an economist at CEBR, added: “While London continues to receive the highest number of tourists every year out of the UK regions, there are signs of strong growth elsewhere.
“The North West had the third highest number of international visitors in 2016, and recorded 6% annual growth. Similarly, Scotland had the third highest spending by international visitors, with 9% annual growth in spending in 2016.”