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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.


  • 45 percent of travelers indicated a compay's environmental credentials are an important factor in their decision-making.
  • Booking on PC or laptop is still preferable over phone.
  • Social media is king: Unexplored locations and post-worthy delicacies are ideal to millennial travelers.

U.K. Profile

In-Person Trips, 2018
$1.087 Billion
Visitor Spending, 2018

Market Conditions

GDP Annual Growth Rate

The U.K. government is in a very interesting position as the country is still divided by Brexit. The government has committed to delivering the democratic vote of the people who voted to leave as of March 29, 2019.

With the pound down against the Euro the Dollar this is likely to have an impact on U.K. tourists heading to countries with the Euro as currency as well as long-haul travel to the USA and the North Americas.

However, ABTA (Association of British Travel Agents) found that 71% of travelers are expecting to spend the same or more on their holiday in 2019—suggesting that holidays aren’t something that people are willing to reduce spending on. Travelers are simply looking to get more for their money with Expedia finding that more than 60% of travelers saying budget was the key factor in deciding on their travel plans.

The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) believes the falling value of the pound is likely to stunt U.K. travel spending overall.

Exchange Rate

  • Pound Sterling rose sharply in the last weeks of November 2018 as markets absorbed news the EU had signed off on the Brexit deal following months of talks.
  • Predictably however, the gains have quickly faded with the underlying challenges facing the U.K., currency remaining ultimately unchanged and there is still no way of knowing exactly what will happen to the U.K. economy and consumer confidence post Brexit.

Travel & Planning Methodologies


  • 139 weekly nonstop flights
  • 42,000 weekly nonstop seats (+4.2%)
  • Capacity has dipped slightly in 2018 following the withdrawal of BA’s London Gatwick to Oakland service, which leaves Norwegian as the only direct option into that gateway from the U.K.
  • In May 2019, Virgin Atlantic will switch their MAN-SFO service for MAN-LAX. This will continue on the same rotation in the summer months only.
  • On the London-Gatwick flights to California, Norwegian is shifting its Northern California port to SFO, relocating from OAK starting in 2019.


  • Planning timeframe between 3-6 months, nearly four in five people (81%) booked a holiday online (not necessarily long-haul travel).
  • Approximately 32% of visitors book with traditional operators, with the remainder booking through OTAs and direct with airlines.
  • Over 90 tour operators package California in the U.K., catering for all tastes, niches and budgets.

Market Barriers & Risk Factors

Competitive Landscape


Other Market Insights


  • Despite uncertainty over Brexit and the strength of the pound against the euro and dollar, the British public are resilient holidaymakers. U.K. consumers are also becoming more environmentally aware and responsible. 45% stated that their chosen holiday company’s environmental credentials are now an important factor in their decision making—a figure that’s almost doubled in 2 years.


  • 40% of millennials (22-35 year olds) now take social media into consideration when choosing holiday destinations. Even the chance to post local delicacies in exotic locations on platforms like Instagram is influencing millennials’ choices. Booking tech company TrekkSoft identified a growing increase in travel to obscure destinations for millennials who are sharing their experience as part of an ‘aspirational’ social media culture—making unexplored locations a perfect choice.


  • Booking on a PC or laptop remains the most popular way to book a holiday online (86%) consistent with 2017 data (83%) and they are also seen as the easiest devices to book on.



  • Office for National Statistics (United Kingdom)
  • Nielson
  • DIIO
  • Carat CCS
  • U.S. Department of Commerce
  • CIC Research, Inc.