Britain’s tourism industry sees a Brexit bounce

The UK may have broken up with the EU but foreign visitors haven’t fallen out of love with British retailers

Britain’s tourism industry sees a Brexit bounce

Following months of post-referendum worries, there has been a string of good news stories that paint a slightly more positive picture. Last week, the Office of National Statistics revealed that the number of people claiming jobseeker’s allowance actually fell by 8,600 to 763,600 in July – despite predictions that it would rise following Brexit. Now new figures from Global Blue, the tax-free shop-ping business, suggest that the rise in inflation has benefited British retailers that cater to foreign visitors.

The cheap pound has slashed the price of visiting the UK, something that thousands of tourists took advantage of in July. And they haven’t been shy about taking out their wallets. In total, foreign visitors declared 7% more in tax-free shopping in July this year, compared to the same month in 2015.

Chinese tourists accounted for 32% of the total spend, splashing out an average of £840. And American tourists weren’t far behind when it came to spending, with the average visitor spending £734 — accounting for 7% of the total tourist expenditure.

However, one group that didn’t increase its spending that much were tourists from Middle East, something Global Blue attributed to Ramadan being celebrated later than usual this year. That being said, Qatari tourists still won the spending race, with the average visitor spending £1,642.

Commenting on the figures, Gordon Clark, managing director for the UK at Global Blue, hopes the tourism industry will continue to benefit from a weak pound. “As the pound still fluctuates, we hope the flurry of tourist activity to the UK has inspired others to follow suit and visit and shop in the UK,” he said.

With the markets still in turmoil and the future of the UK’s relationship with the EU still in flux, this influx of capital should hopefully go some way toward easing retailers’ concerns.

Eric Johansson
Eric Johansson

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