ONS data shows rising monthly tourism deficit, with more Brits holidaying abroad and spending more
The ONS (Office for National Statistics) produces monthly data on the numbers of UK residents who travel abroad, and for what reason. Also the number of overseas residents who travel to the UK, and for what reason. They also record how much the UK residents spend on their trips abroad, and how much overseas visitors spend in the UK. The net balance, between the two amounts is called the Tourism Deficit. It is always a deficit, as much more is spent by British outbound visitors, than by visitors coming into the UK. The ONS data for July show that, in the year to the end of July 2016 – UK residents made 67.8 million visits abroad, up +7% compared to the year before. Overseas residents made 36.6 million visits to the UK in that period, up + 4% on the year before. UK residents spent £40.8 billion on these visits during the year, which was +9% more than the same period a year earlier. But the overseas residents spent £21.8 billion on their visits to the UK, which was -1% less than the year before. The deficit grew significantly between July 2014 and July 2016, from £0.93 billion to £1.76 billion, for just that one month. The UK tourism deficit for all of 2015 was £16. 9 billion. Of all the trips made by UK residents abroad, the proportion to Europe is around 79 – 80% of the total, and 20% to the US and the rest of the world. Of all the trips to the UK, about 72 – 73% are from Europe, and about 28% are from the US and the rest of the world. Most trips other than to nearby Europe are by air.
UK residents made 67.8 million visits abroad in the 12 months to July 2016. This was an increase of 7% compared with the same period a year earlier.
UK residents spent £40.8 billion on these visits, which was 9% more than the same period a year earlier.
Overseas residents made 36.6 million visits to the UK in the 12 months to July 2016, an increase of 4% compared with the same period a year earlier.
Overseas residents spent £21.8 billion on these visits, which was 1% less than the same period a year earlier.
In July 2016, UK residents made 7.0 million visits abroad, an increase of 3% compared with July 2015.
In July 2016, overseas residents made 3.8 million visits to the UK, an increase of 2% compared with July 2015.
Figure below shows the difference in July 2016 between the money spent by UK residents and overseas residents. The difference between £3,550 million and £1,790 million – is £1.76 billion.
By contrast the gap in July 2014 between the money spent by UK residents and overseas residents, was between £2,860 million and £1,930 million – is £0 93 billion. So it almost doubled in that time.
5. Trends in visits to the UK by overseas residents, non-seasonally adjusted (monthly overseas travel and tourism dataset tables 1,2,5)
The number of visits to the UK by overseas residents in July 2016 was 3.8 million, an increase of 2% when compared with July 2015. Overseas residents spent £2.5 billion in the UK during these visits.
During the period May to July 2016, the numbers of overseas residents’ visits to the UK were similar to the corresponding period a year earlier at 10.6 million, while the total amount spent by visitors fell by 4% to £6.4 billion when compared with the same period in 2015.
In the 12 months to July 2016, the number of visits to the UK was 4% higher than a year earlier, while the total amount spent by visitors decreased by 1%. Visits from North America and Europe (see background note: Geographical areas) were up by 5% and 3% respectively, and visits from other countries (countries other than Europe and North America) grew by 4%. The number of holiday visits decreased by 2%; business visits and visiting friends and family increased by 3% and 9% respectively.
Table of contents
- Main points
- About the estimates
- Changes to overseas travel and tourism publications
- Main trends in figures and charts
- Trends in visits to the UK by overseas residents, non-seasonally adjusted (monthly overseas travel and tourism dataset tables 1,2,5)
- Trends in visits abroad by UK residents, non-seasonally adjusted (monthly overseas travel and tourism dataset tables 3, 4, 5)
- Accuracy of IPS estimates
- Other overseas travel and tourism releases
- Further statistics and other analyses
- Quality and methodology
2.About the estimates
Estimates are based on interviews conducted when passengers end their visit. Therefore any visits commencing in the reported month but not completed until later are not included in estimates for the reported month.
The reported spend for visits include any spending associated with the visit, which may occur before, during or after the trip.
In January 2015, the methodology for treating outliers was improved. For further information please contact the IPS team.
Parts of the bulletin refer to countries visited abroad. It should be noted that if a UK resident visited more than 1 country on a trip abroad, the country recorded as visited in this publication is the country that was visited for the longest period.
Estimates are subject to sampling error, and confidence intervals are provided to help readers interpret the estimates (see background note: Accuracy of IPS estimates). Further guidance is available about the quality of overseas travel and tourism estimates.
There is a “tourism deficit” to the UK economy – estimated at around £ 13 – 20 billion per year over the past decade. This is the difference in spending (other than on travel tickets*) between money spent by visitors to the UK, and the money spent by Brits travelling abroad.
Every year, a great deal more money is spent by UK residents travelling abroad, than by foreign visitors coming here.
The component of the tourism deficit from trips made by air travel is a large part of it. For instance, in 2010 the air travel component was £12.4 billion our of a total tourism deficit (including ship and Channel Tunnel) of £14.2 billion.
In 2011, the air travel component was £11.2 billion, out of the total of £13.1 billion.
Below are recent Tourism Deficit figures from the ONS, from their Overseas Travel and Tourism reports.
2004 £17.2 billion
2005 £ 17.9 billion
2007 £19.05 billion
2008 £20.52 billion
2009 £15.10 billion
2010 £14.21 billion link (but ONS says £14.9 billion – link Page 5)
|The UK’s travel deficit 2015|
|UK visits abroad||Foreign visits to UK|
|Number of trips||65.7m (+ 9.4% v. 2014)||36.1m (+5.1%)|
|Spend (not adjusted for inflation)||£39bn (+9.8%)||£22.1bn (+1%)|