UK. London’s immediate tourism outlook is on the wane according to analyst ForwardKeys, as international forward air bookings are showing a significant decline.
Of particular concern is the decrease in bookings from China, as Chinese travel has accounted for a boom in visitor numbers in recent years, ForwardKeys noted.
International forward bookings to London are down -3.5% year-on-year for the first half of 2018, while a -10.1% decline is currently projected in the second quarter.
The analyst said that by comparison other European Union destinations such as Paris, Rome, Amsterdam and Barcelona are set to grow visitor arrivals.
“London’s decline began during the last quarter of 2017,” ForwardKeys said. “[Our] data found that terror attacks had a moderate effect when compared to the fluctuation in the British Pound. The Pound’s strengthening position against the US Dollar and Chinese Yuan coincides with a reduced visitor outlook from those countries whose holiday spending money suffered a diminishing value in the UK.”
Australia and New Zealand lead the forward bookings field for arrivals in London from outside Europe, ahead +16% and +16.8% respectively. Arrivals from Argentina, Brazil, India, Nigeria and Russia also look encouraging, ForwardKeys said. But China is behind -5.4% for the first half of this year, and the USA is lagging -7.2%.
ForwardKeys said a -13.3% decline in visitor numbers during Chinese New Year clearly demonstrated “China’s waning interest in London”.
There is some optimism for the high season for Indian travellers in late April, with forward bookings to London currently ahead +5.6%.
“Our findings partly demonstrate the impact that currency fluctuations can have on a destination,” said ForwardKeys CEO and co-founder Olivier Jager. “US and Chinese visitors took advantage when Sterling was weaker, now they’re reacting the other way as the Pound recovers.”
ForwardKeys predicts future travel patterns by analysing 17 million booking transactions a day.