London’s immediate tourism outlook is on the wane with international forward air bookings showing a significant decline, particularly from the Chinese who have accounted for a boom in visitor numbers in recent years – that’s according to latest figures from ForwardKeys which predicts future travel patterns by analysing 17 million booking transactions a day.

A year-on-year comparison shows that international forward bookings to London lag by 3.5% for the first half of 2018, with a large 10.1% fall currently projected in the second quarter. At the same time, other top European Union destinations – Paris, Rome, Amsterdam and Barcelona – look set to grow visitor arrivals.

London’s decline began during the last quarter of 2017. ForwardKeys data found that terror attacks had a moderate effect when compared to the fluctuation in the British pound. The pound’s strengthening position against the US dollar and Chinese yuan coincides with a reduced visitor outlook from those countries whose holiday spending money suffered a diminishing value in the UK.

The outlook shows that for arrivals in London from outside Europe, Australia and New Zealand lead the forward bookings field, ahead 16% and 16.8% respectively. Arrivals from Argentina, Brazil, India, Nigeria and Russia also look encouraging. But China is behind by 5.4% for the first half of this year, and the United States is lagging 7.2%. 

A clear demonstration of China’s waning interest in London, was visitor numbers during Chinese New Year 2018 – down 13.3% on 2017, even though the festival represents a relatively small share of total yearly Chinese arrivals in London.

The next optimistic outlook for London is in late April, the high season for Indian travellers. Their numbers are currently ahead 5.6%.

ForwardKeys CEO and co-founder, Olivier Jager, said: “Our findings partly demonstrate the impact that currency fluctuations can have on a destination. US and Chinese visitors took advantage when Sterling was weaker, now they’re reacting the other way as the pound recovers.


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