PHOTO: Brexit hasn't exactly turned away the tourists. (Photo via Flickr/Tomek Nacho)
The United Kingdom is one of the world's best destinations to enjoy.
Thanks to Brexit, it’s also been one heck of a deal so far.
Visit Britain (h/t The Guardian) unveiled numbers that paint a positive tourism trend for the country. It comes at the same time the nation continues to deal with upcoming and subsequent repercussions from Brexit. (On Wednesday, Prime Minister Theresa May kicked off the country’s separation from the European Union by signing Article 50.)
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According to Visit Britain's report, the United Kingdom had a nice 2016 with 36.7 million visits, which represents an increase of 1.5 percent over the previous year. Tourism spend was also up, 1.1 percent, to £22.3 billion.
A stellar end to the year—flight bookings were up in November and December—seems to portend a dramatic increase for 2017. Visit London sees the country enjoying a four percent uptick in visits, (about 38.1 million). It also forecasts spending to surpass £24 billion with an increase of 8.1 percent.
But we were already prepared for these kinds of numbers; especially considering the Brexit bump experienced last October. TravelPulse’s Patrick Clarke explained that, following June’s referendum, the country saw a record number of visitors in July. And that’s taking into account a prolific 2015.
The pound’s slide was an obvious allure for tourists. However, Visit Britain cautions against assuming 2017 continues its meteoric rise because the fluctuating currency is just that.
The forecast explains: “As with visit numbers, the impact of the fall in the pound – which has improved inbound visitors’ spending power – on the value of visitor spending is so far inconclusive. The ongoing value of the pound itself is a key uncertainty and will depend on several factors. These include the status of EU and trade negotiations throughout the year as well as monetary policy actions taken by the Bank of England and other major central banks abroad.”
It’s not a foregone conclusion that the pound will offer a remarkable deal for tourists after the country moves past Article 50’s watershed moment. However, MarketWatch.com puts the pound at $1.2411, which is down .5 percent on the week but up the same amount for the year.
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Naeem Aslam, chief market analyst at Think Forex, tells the publication that interested parties will know immediately how the market reacts: “The next 48 hours are extremely important [for the pound].”
MarketWatch.com also explains that the pound is in store for possibly more tumult in the near future: “Complicating matters, the Scottish parliament voted to hold a second independence referendum, granting first minister Nicola Sturgeon the authority to negotiate with Westminster on holding another vote.”
A travel treat for International visitors is an absolute headache for some sectors of the travel industry.
Travelpulse’s Rich Thomaselli reports some airlines, such as easyJet and Ryanair, have been told they must move their headquarters out of the country if each want to continue European service.
Obviously, the issues facing the United Kingdom and its people in the wake of actual Brexit proceedings will be tremendous and long-lasting. For tourists looking at possible destinations, however, things often come down to simply where you can get a great deal.
The UK, with its vibrant cities, pastoral towns and amazing people, offers one of the world's top values as long as the pound continues to hover at low levels.