Bristol – Local tourism jobs lose out with airport growth

18.11.2009   (Stop Bristol Airport   Expansion)

Thousands of jobs in the local tourism industry have been lost despite Bristol
Airport’s huge growth in recent years, a new report from Stop Bristol Airport
Expansion has revealed.  

The study, which for the first time compares tourism data for the South West
with airport growth figures, shows that the soaring passenger numbers at Bristol
Airport between 2001 and 2007 did not result in a boom for local tourism. In fact
the tourism sector shrank by 10% in real terms. [1].

Study at

Report author Jeremy Birch said that given the figures in the study, there was
no reason to think that BIA’s proposed 60% expansion is likely to reverse this

Jeremy Birch said:

“When you start looking closely at the data it’s clear that many people who would
have spent time and money in the South West have been flying abroad instead   –
and it’s the South West tourism industry, one of the region’s major employers,
that’s been losing out.  

“There’s no complicated maths in this study – the story is all there in the
data from government and regional tourism agencies. It is very clear that expanding
airports not only fails to boost regional tourism, but actually damages it.

While passenger numbers at BIA more than doubled – from 2.67 million in 2001
to 5.88 million in 2007 – the former Avon area lost 3,340 full-time jobs in tourism.
In the same period, a staggering total of 44,761 full-time jobs in tourism were
lost across the whole of the South West. Although the region’s other airports
also grew during this period, BIA is by far the largest, handling six times more
passengers than Exeter.  

All data used in the study comes from public sources such as the Civil Aviation
Authority (CAA), South West Tourism and the UK Tourism Survey for the SW. [2]

Jeremy Birch added:

“;Bristol airport has claimed huge economic benefits from incoming tourism for
its planned expansion but the pattern so far has been in the opposite direction.
Those hoping for the airport’s expansion to boost local tourism should reconsider
in the light of our findings.”

The study shows that the majority of BIA’s passengers, 85%, are travelling to
and from the South West, while 49.6% of BIA’s passengers come from the former
Avon area, with 11.9% of these from Somerset. This indicates that BIA’s catchment
area is mainly local.

Between 2001 and 2007, day trips within the South West fell from 148 million
to 96 million, a drop of 36% [3]. Most day trips are likely to be made by people
resident in the South West, suggesting that as people use BIA more, they spend
less on day trips. The study indicates that the rise in outbound tourism is the
most likely cause for the diversion of spending on trips that would otherwise
fuel jobs in South West tourism.

And as passenger numbers have dropped in 2009, local tourist attractions in North
Somerset have reported a 10% increase in visitors.

The study also shows that including day trips, 86% of tourism spending in the
region is by UK citizens. Most of these arrive by car and almost none by plane.
Overseas visitors to the South West generate only a small amount, 14%, of the
South West’s tourism income. Only 15% of the total overseas visitors reach the
South West through BIA.

Although inbound passengers using BIA have increased from 80,000 trips to 300,000
trips over this period, this is still less than one in seven of the foreign tourists
who visit the South West each year. BIA is not a very significant way of bringing
money into the region; but it is a very effective way of sending money out.


For media enquiries contact Susan Pearson on: 07891 460942
For more information visit:    

‘Tourism, its impacts and the relevance of Bristol International Airport’ – see     (10 pages)


Main data sources (all figures used are from public sources):

Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) annual passenger numbers for BIA (
CAA Passenger surveys covering BIA for years 2000,2003,2008
South West Tourism &lquot;Value of Tourism&rquot; reports for years 2001,2003,2005,2006,2007
(no others available) (from or
United Kingdom Tourism Survey for South West (
International Passenger Survey (
State of Tourism report 2003 (
SW occupancy rates data (


In 2007, day visitors to the former Avon area contributed £743million; in 2001
day visitors to Avon spent £700million, equivalent to £798million in 2007 prices
(using RPI measure of inflation for adjustment).

In 2007, day visitors to the South West spent £4.2billion; in 2001 they spent
£3.77 billion, equivalent to £4.3billion in 2007 prices.

Report summary:

The following points show there is strong evidence that previous expansion at
BIA has meant lower domestic tourism income and has only partly compensated for
this by bringing inbound tourists. Future expansion would continue this pattern,
taking money away from the South West tourism, leisure and other sectors.
·                 Between 2001 and 2007, the tourism income to the South West region
fell by 10% in real terms. At the same time the UK GDP grew by 16%, thus the sector
fell behind the rest of the economy by 25%
·                 The number of tourism related direct jobs in the South West dropped
by 14.6%, a loss of 44,761 full-time jobs
·                 For the former Avon area the drop was 11.4%, a loss of 3,340 full-time
·                 Over the same period the passengers at BIA doubled, with over 60% outbound
tourists and only 10% inbound tourists
·                 Over 80% of tourism trips and 82% of spending from stays in the region
are domestic
·                 Including day trips, 86% of tourism spend in the region is by UK citizens
·                 For domestic visitors, over 80% arrive by car and only 2.4% by plane
·                 Of the visitors that are from abroad, only 15% reach the region through
BIA, most use airports in the South East or surface transport
·                 The currently weak pound has increased outbound costs and decreased
inbound ones, but overall this has reduced total passenger numbers
·                 In 2009, when air passengers have fallen by 10%, attraction visitor
numbers and incomes are up 10% in North Somerset, and up generally across the
·                 Overseas inbound tourists generate a tiny fraction of the tourism income
of the South West.