According to a research revealed at WTM London 2019, the US, Australia and India continue to take the top spot for the UK‘s favourite long-haul inbound tourism markets. There were some significant new entries on a list of the top 30 long-haul countries and the top 50 long-haul cities. Nigeria has returned to the top 10 countries, an improvement of 13.7 percent year-on-year, and Bangladesh has made it to the top 30, replacing Chile. Many markets have reported impressive growth, most notably Bangladesh, up 32.5%, China up 19.8% and Taiwan up 16%. New York (up 3.6%), Hong Kong (up 7.4%) and Sydney (down 2.1%) are the top three long-haul cities.
The most notable risers in the list of cities during the past year are Abjua (up 21%), Delhi (up 21%), Miami (up 20%) and Seattle (up 17%), all of which have climbed four or more places up the ranking. The study, conducted by travel analytics company ForwardKeys and WTM London, was focused on long-haul flight bookings to the United Kingdom for the year 1 October 2018 to 30 September 2019 and benchmarked against the same dates a year before and five years ago.
Continued growth of China and other Asian economies, the strength of the US dollar, improved connectivity, recovery of commodity prices, especially oil, the Argentine debt crisis, and even the attractiveness of the Cricket World Cup, are behind the changes in rankings. According to the writer of the study, Olivier Ponti, VP Insights, ForwardKeys, currency, competitiveness and connectivity all helped to keep the USA in the top spot.
“Overall connectivity between the United Kingdom and the United States is improving, flight competition is increasing, which reduces airfare costs. The UK has become a cheaper destination and it’s easier to get there,” he said, citing the capacity increase of Norwegian Air by 12.5 percent. Despite holding second place in the ratings, tourist arrivals from Australia to the UK are down 2.1 million, according to Ponti, Australia has experienced its first economic depression in the last two quarters of 2018 in more than 20 years.
“The Australian dollar fell, people had less money and visiting the United Kingdom became more expensive. With forward bookings looking promising, the situation has improved in the year,” he said. Third, India showed a phenomenal growth, up 14.5 percent compared to 2018, with more than 22 nights remaining for a quarter of all Indian arrivals. The Cricket World Cup, which took place in the UK in May and June this year, was cited as having a huge impact on the number of visitors. Simon Press, director of the WTM London Exhibition, said: “These ratings will be useful to anyone who supports the UK in business.”