Coronavirus set to hammer foreign tourists' Christmas visits, warns industry

Research drawn up before the latest Omicron restrictions already predicted a bleak Christmas for businesses relying on overseas’ visitors

The Norwegian Christmas Tree in Trafalgar Square, donated by Oslo to the people of London, is lit by Her Highness Princess Astrid of Norway
Foreign tourists usually flock to the UK over the festive season

The number of overseas tourists to Britain in the run-up to Christmas is expected to plunge by three quarters compared with 2019, research reveals today.

International visitor numbers are expected to drop by 75%, according to trade body UKinbound.

In 2019, before the coronavirus pandemic, inbound tourism in November and December was worth £4.25 billion to the UK economy – suggesting businesses will lose billions of pounds in the build up to the festive period.

The study was carried out before Saturday’s announcement by Prime Minister Boris Johnson of fresh restrictions on travel to Britain – suggesting the true picture facing businesses relying on foreign tourists will now be even worse.

The fresh measures will hit arrival numbers


NurPhoto via Getty Images)

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All arrivals must self-isolate and take a PCR test from 4am Tuesday under measures to curb the spread of the Omicron strain

UKinbound chief executive Joss Croft said “The UK’s inbound tourism industry is seeing green shoots and our members are reporting an increase in enquiries for 2022, but we can’t let that mask reality – winter is going to be tough for the industry.

Visitors often head to London’s shops to soak up the Christmas atmosphere

“With annual revenues down 93% and international visitors expected to be down 75% during a critical part of the year – Christmas – businesses are skating on thin ice.

“The cancelling of London’s New Year’s Eve fireworks and New Year’s Day Parade, both huge draws for international visitors, have only exacerbated problems.”

UKinbound’s survey of British tour operators, hoteliers and tourist attractions found 89% believed the number of foreign visitors in November and December would be lower than in 2019.

Four in five expected figures to be down over 75%.

Mr Croft added: “The UK’s third largest service export – inbound tourism – was worth £28.4billion to the UK economy in 2019 and will be a key driver of economic recovery.”


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