Author Felicity Anderson
The UK’s economic woes have made it a prime destination for budget-conscious visitors coming from abroad, according to a popular travel publisher.
Urging tourists to, “reap the benefits of the weak pound,” Lonely Planet has ranked the UK seventh on its list of best value destinations across the globe, behind Estonian capital Tallinn, Lanzarote in the Canary Islands and the US state of Arizona, reports the BBC.
A slump in the pound, which has fallen 11% against the dollar and 14% against the euro, following the EU referendum in June last year, has meant that prices in the UK have become comparatively cheaper for visitors from abroad.
UK visitor numbers are up
Apparently taking advantage of this economic situation, visitor numbers across the country are up, with tourism body Visit Britain reporting a spike in tourist numbers coming from overseas this year.
“From January to July there were a record 23.1 million overseas visits to the UK, up 8% on the same period last year, ” reports the Independent.
A rise in ‘staycations’
This surge in overseas tourist numbers has been compounded with a record number of UK residents opting for a ‘staycation,’ and holidaying on British soil.
The BBC has reported that spending abroad on UK debit cards was down nearly 13% in August compared to the same time last year.
“This decrease, in part, highlights the growing consumer preference to holiday in the UK as sterling’s purchasing power abroad has weakened considerably since the Brexit vote,” said trade body UK Finance in its monthly debit card report.
Other factors attracting tourists to Britain
The Outlander effect
It’s not just the weak pound luring tourists to our shores. Other factors, such as the book series and TV show, Outlander, which is set in the Scottish Highlands has proven popular with American audiences, keen to follow in the footsteps of its main characters.
The Times reported this week that tourists are paying up to £400 each for private day trips to locations, “including Linlithgow Palace, Doune Castle and the village of Culross in Fife.”
The British shops have also been a hit with Chinese visitors, who according to the Independent, “splashed out £29m in shopping centres and on high streets across the UK during this month’s Golden Week holiday.”
The newspaper reports that research from payments processor Worldpay, which analysed card transactions during the Golden Week holiday that lasted from 1 to 8 October, found that £11m was spent in London alone.
Rural areas, in particular, have seen a surge in visitor numbers, with tourists exploring beyond the capital cities of London and Edinburgh, to remote destinations, such as Yorkshire, the Lake District and the Highlands of Scotland.
A darker side to increased tourist numbers
While this influx of tourists is welcomed by many local businesses, there is also a darker side to increased visitor numbers.
Popular Scottish tourist destination the Isle of Skye found itself in the news frequently this summer as it became increasingly clear that improved infrastructure is needed to support the large numbers of people visiting its world-renowned beauty spots.
The island, featured recently in several blockbuster films, including King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, and Transformers: The Last Knight, as well as pop star Harry Styles video for his single Sign of the Times.
Always popular, it is now regularly full to capacity in summer months, with local police urging tourists to stay away unless they have booked a room for the night.