Country Plans United Kingdom;
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UK Market Profile

Visit California’s London office in the U.K. 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 California way of life and the perception of a laid-back, welcoming demeanor. Though Brexit has created a significant degree of economic uncertainty, outbound travel has thus far been largely unaffected. Data updated as of February 2020.


Market Profile

$1.423 Billion
Preliminary Visitor Spending, 2019
$1.586 Billion*
Forecasted Visitor Spending, 2023
*Reflects pre-coronavirus forecast.
11.9%
Market Share (U.S. Spend), 2018

Travel & Planning

Airlift (2019)

  • 130 weekly nonstop flights
  • 39,000 weekly nonstop seats
  • 5 entry points  (Los Angeles, Oakland, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose)

Booking

  • Average planning timeframe: 5 to 6 months
  • Average booking timeframe: 4 to 5 months
  • Approximately 32% of visitors book with traditional operators
  • Over 90 tour operators package California in the U.K.
  • Peak travel months: Easter holiday, July and August

Visitor Characteristics

Sought-After Travel Experiences

  • Responsible travel: Responsible tourism is becoming an increasingly significant consideration for consumers when planning a holiday.
  • Personalization: More than ever, U.K. consumers are seeking tailored products.
  • Solo travel: The trend for solo holidays among Brits continues to grow, more than doubling since 2011.
  • Wellness: Travelers are seeking new ways to alleviate stress, and a number of mainstream operators have introduced packages that include yoga, mindfulness, nutrition and digital detox.
  • Culinary: The trend for culinary-based food tourism and food tours continues to gain momentum with travelers looking to travel like locals.

How to reach U.K. Travelers

  • Social Media
  • Traditional Media
  • Podcasts

Market Conditions

Despite predictions that the U.K. economy would plunge into recession after the 2016 Brexit vote, it has performed strongly, with GDP performing better than all other European countries. However, Britain’s economy shrank by 0.2% in the second quarter of 2019, the first contraction since 2012. This can be attributed to the political situation, increased stock levels and ongoing Brexit uncertainty. However, after four years of indecision, a decisive general election in December 2019 forced legislation and the U.K. has left the EU as of Jan. 13, 2020.


Competitive Landscape

Due to proximity and accessibility, European destinations continued to rank among the top ten most popular. However, the U.S. remains the most popular long-haul destination for U.K. travelers.

Opportunities
Despite Brexit woes, Brits have not cut back on travel and continue to travel more each year, with U.S. and California visitation numbers expected to grow. While two air carriers have pulled flights out of the U.K., other airlines are anticipated to replace the lost capacity.

Challenges
The U.S. remains the most popular long-haul destination for U.K. travelers but the list of competitors continues to grow and evolve. Destinations such as Japan, Australia and South Africa are key contenders within this category. Additionally, airlift capacity has been impacted by the upcoming elimination of Air New Zealand’s LAX flight and the failure of Thomas Cook in September 2019, which removed 55,000 seats annually.


Sources

  • DIIO
  • Bureau of Economic Analysis, NTTO, Dean Runyan, Tourism Economics
  • U.S. Dept. of Commerce, National Travel and Tourism Office, “Survey of International Air Travelers”, CIC Research