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UK Market Profile

Visit California’s London office in the United Kingdom dates back to 1999, and the country has remained a top-tier market ever since. Year after year, travelers from the U.K. market are drawn to the unique California way of life and the perception of Californians’ laid-back, welcoming demeanor. Though the horizon is uncertain as the United Kingdom transitions out of the European Union, the effects on outbound travel thus far have been fairly mild, providing continued potential for growth in the market.


  • U.K. consumers are looking to spend more in order to secure the exact holiday desired
  • With the pound weakened against the dollar, consumers are looking for value-adds to ensure they are getting something extra from their holiday expenditure
  • Consumers at the luxury end of the U.K. market are looking for unique experiences and ways to enrich lavish travels with authenticity
  • Growing mobile use for planning confirms value in most operators’ move to mobile-first technology

U.K. Profile

In-Person Trips, 2017
$1 Billion
Visitor Spending, 2017

Market Conditions

GDP Annual Growth Rate

Since the Brexit vote in 2016, politicians and pundits have been proven wrong with virtually every index pointing in the opposite direction. The United Kingdom continues to prosper and is likely to do so through 2018, with the U.K. stock market up over 30 percent in the past 18 months, house prices continuing to rise, and wages rising at the fastest rate for a decade.

Exchange Rate

  • 1 British Pound Sterling Equals 1.36 U.S. Dollar
  • Despite a low exchange rate, growth in the United Kingdom has not slumped, but continued at the fastest rate within the G7 countries. Unemployment fell to its lowest levels ever, and although the pound lost nearly 15 percent against most currencies immediately after the Brexit vote, it has rallied over 8 percent since then.

Travel & Planning Methodologies


  • 128 weekly nonstop flights
  • 37,025 weekly nonstop seats
  • Flight capacity between the United Kingdom and California has grown steadily over the past two years into gateway cities: Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose and Oakland.
  • British Airways currently operates the most comprehensive flying program from the United Kingdom, operating direct three times daily into Los Angeles, twice daily into San Francisco, daily into San Jose and San Diego, and four times weekly into Oakland.
  • Both Virgin Atlantic and Thomas Cook launched summer services from Manchester to San Francisco, and United Airlines now operates twice daily from London Heathrow to Los Angeles in summer and on the same rotation into San Francisco through the winter.


  • Planning timeframe: up to five months
  • Booking timeframe: evenly spread from 30 days to six months
  • Approximately 32 percent of visitors book with traditional operators, with the remainder booking through OTAs and direct with airlines.
  • More than 90 tour operators package California in the United Kingdom, catering for all tastes, niches and budgets.

Market Barriers & Risk Factors

Competitive Landscape


Other Market Insights


  • More than three in 10 (31 percent) people are planning to spend more in 2018, compared to 24 percent who stated this in 2016. 14 percent expect to spend less while nearly half (47 percent) think they will spend the same. Millennials are most likely to spend more: 39 percent of those aged 25-34 and 34 percent of 18-24-year-olds say they expect to spend more on a holiday next year.
  • The luxury sector saw exponential growth through 2016, and while still growing steadily, has decelerated slightly this year.
  • Wider availability of new aircraft, such as Boeing’s Dreamliner and the Airbus A380, is making longer journeys more attractive and comfortable. Additionally, the abolition of Air Passenger Duty (APD) bands C and D in April 2015 has meant a welcome saving for people flying long haul.


  • Online booking has seen a notable increase in the last 12 months, with 83 percent of people using this method to book their holiday compared to 76 percent in 2016. Booking in-person remains steady at 17 percent, compared to 19 percent in 2016, while phone bookings have dropped from 21 percent in 2016 to 16 percent in 2017. There has been a notable increase in people planning to spend more on their holidays in the next 12 months.



  • Nielsen
  • DIIO
  • Carat CCS
  • U.S. Department of Commerce
  • Tourism Economics
  • CIC Research, Inc.
  • ABTA Holiday Habits Report (2017)