Weak pound continues to boost air travel to London
Americas and Asia Pacific lead the charge and the outlook remains strong
July 19, 2017
The weak pound is doing wonders for international air travel to London. Tourists are arriving in greater numbers and the relative strength of their currency, making the city on average 9% better value, is apparently overcoming any concerns about recent terror attacks, according to ForwardKeys which predicts future travel patterns by analysing 16 million booking transactions a day.
Looking forward, bookings for international arrivals in London continue to be robust, 14% ahead of where they were at the beginning of July last year. The Americas are currently 21% ahead, and Asia Pacific 14% ahead for London arrivals between July 1 and October 31. Only the Middle East is lagging, currently 20% behind, compared to the same period in 2016. The lag is due mainly to a fall in the oil price hurting Middle Eastern economies and the timing of Ramadan, which fell earlier this year.
Benchmarked against its European competitor cities, London has the biggest market share of long-haul bookings for arrival between July and October, 12%, as against 9% for Paris and 7% for Rome. So, its growth, currently 14% ahead, is impressive.
Tourism from the so-called BRICS, Brazil, Russia, India, China is resurging. All show double digit growth in forward bookings for London and, with the exception of India, their citizens are showing much greater interest in London than the rest of Europe.
Looking at the more significant origin markets, i.e., those with a share of 0.5% or more, Chile is the one showing the greatest growth in forward bookings, 67% ahead. It is followed by Brazil, 48% ahead, Taiwan, 43% ahead and China, 35% ahead.
During the first half of 2016, total long-haul international arrivals in London were up 16% compared to the same period last year. ForwardKeys research reveals that the big boosts came from the Americas, with a 52% share of long-haul arrivals, up 19%, and Asia Pacific, with a share of 34%, up 14%.
The rapid growth was sparked by the sterling exchange rate falling to its lowest level in thirty years against the dollar in mid-October last year. The ForwardKeys data shows that initially bookings, and consequently arrivals, soared when tourists realised their spending money would go further.
Olivier Jager, ForwardKeys co-founder and CEO, said: “This is an obvious and clear demonstration of how currency fluctuations affect travel, even in the face of other significant factors. London is great value at the moment and people are springing at the opportunity for a holiday, costing less than they might have anticipated. It’s also testimony to London’s appeal as a destination and excellent news for all those businesses involved in selling London and the rest of the UK as a destination.”