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Known as a time for new life, sunnier days, and a renewed sense of self, spring is on its way and along with it a positive forecast for UK cities that are bouncing back to life. This year, inbound visits and travel spend in Britain are set to increase, a variety of exciting new openings are on their way, and innovative trends in the hospitality industry are increasingly noticeable; the season ahead is set to be one which will support the long-awaited welcoming of international travellers back to Britain.
By summer, it is forecasted that around half of pre-COVID inbound visitor volume will have returned*, with early February already seeing the best week for inbound flight bookings since the pandemic began. Aligning with the positive forecasts, domestic publications have seen plenty of look forward features on highly anticipated hotels, immersive new visitor experiences, and announcements of exciting projects reported on, each supporting the rejuvenation of travel in Britain**. Some of these highlights include the opening of Raffles London at the OWO, the first ever Raffles in the UK and Europe, the official Game of Thrones Studio Tour and interactive experience in Northern Ireland, and Manchester’s Castlefield Viaduct highline park plans.
Among these, there are also the unmissable, stand out dates on Britain’s 2022 calendar driving visitors, namely the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee and all of the surrounding celebrations in June, the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games held in Birmingham at the end of summer, and UNBOXED spreading across England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales and online throughout March to October. Aside from consumer tourism, the business calendar will also be working its way back to full after being hit hard by travel restrictions. Recent positive feedback from events such as the Expo 2020 in Dubai has increased the confidence in business travel, and has contributed to exciting wins such as Manchester announcing that it will be hosting the 2022 One Young World.
From this years’ highlights, it’s clear that cities’ recovery is in full swing, and come spring the newly felt sunshine in the UK will be inviting tourists out and about in to the great outdoors. The popular annual Belgravia in Bloom flower festival will be back in London’s pretty streets, where this year the ‘Beautifully British’ themed festival will transform Belgravia with spectacular floral displays, installations and experiences. Further north, the newly formed The Locationist Tour in Manchester, Birmingham and Liverpool will be guiding visitors around some of the cities’ starring sites including locations seen in The Batman, Captain America and Mission Impossible. Lastly for the more active traveller, stand up paddle boarding has taken cities’ waterways by storm and is the perfect challenge to see the other side of Britain, Original Wild in Bath even invites friendly four-legged friends to join.
With spring also comes new creativity, and this year there will be plenty of pop-ups, exhibitions, and galleries cropping up like spring flowers showcasing the imaginative and innovative side of Britain. From late March onwards, The UK’s first dedicated LGBTQ+ museum Queer Britain will be opening in Kings Cross with explorative and celebratory gallery spaces; the International Slavery Museum in Liverpool will have a pop up to share an artistic response to the city and its role in historic slavery; and BoxHall opening on Bristol’s Welshback Waterfront full of independent restaurants, street food traders as well as live music and events.
Finally, recent research on Britain intenders has shown that the strongest desires are to experience large cities, as well as roam around to visit many types of places***. This is supported by great regional transport, and new initiatives such as LNER’s new international website, meaning itineraries covering multiple cities will be easier than ever, as well as jam packed full of experiences for every traveller. The coming season’s diverse and dynamic openings will be providing international travellers with some of the best of Britain.
* Oxford Economics/VisitBritain
** ForwardKeys – data up to 13th February 2022, Travelport from Mastercard/Mabrian
*** Wave 3 Inbound COVID-19 Sentiment Tracker - September 2021 - Fieldwork: 23rd August – 6th
For more information contact:
VisitBritain Media Teampressandpr@visitbritain.org