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    British Museum holds on to tourism top spot

    The annual attractions survey, published today by VisitEngland, has revealed that gardens saw the highest percentage growth in visitor numbers during 2019.
    Visits to gardens across England increased by ten per cent in 2019 compared to the previous year.
    Farms and places of worship also saw strong growth in visitor numbers, up eight and seven per cent, respectively.
    historic houses/castles and wildlife attractions/zoos saw good growth in visits, both up by five per cent.
    Overall England’s visitor attractions saw a rise of three per cent in visitors in 2019, the highest year-on-year increase since 2014, and four per cent growth in revenue compared to the previous year.

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    These trends are likely to have gone into sharp reverse this year, however, as the country battles the Covid-19 pandemic.
    VisitEngland chief executive, Sally Balcombe, said: “From world-renowned museums, galleries, castles and historic houses to rural, wildlife and outdoor experiences, England’s outstanding range of visitor attractions are a crucial and valuable part of our tourism offer, boosting local economies right across the country.
    “England’s attractions continued to provide a rich and varied canvas to capture the imagination of domestic and international visitors and our stunning gardens were a proven tourism draw, admired at home and across the world for their beauty and variety.
    “Millions of jobs and local economies rely on tourism and this annual survey is also a timely opportunity to highlight the dedication of visitor attractions across the country who have been working so hard to welcome visitors back safely, adapting and innovating to meet new ways of working and still providing a great experience.”
    Topping the list of free attractions was the British Museum with 6.2 million visitors followed by the Tate Modern with nearly 6.1 million and the National Gallery with six million.
    The Tower of London remained the most visited ‘paid for’ attraction in 2019 with almost three million visits followed by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, which saw a 25 per cent increase in visitors to 2.3 million and Chester Zoo with 2.1 million.
    The survey, which gathered information from 1,308 English attractions, also showed increases in international visitors overall in 2019, up two per cent, and more local day trips to attractions than in the previous year, also up two per cent.
    More Information
    To see the results of the VisitEngland annual survey of visits to visitor attractions, including regional data for attractions, head over to the official website.
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    WTTC finds huge demand to travel next year

    An overwhelming majority of US and Canadian travellers, as many as 99 per cent, are eager to travel again, with 70 per cent stating that they plan to take a holiday next year.
    That is according to a travel leaders group survey of nearly 3,000 frequent travellers.
    The survey was conducted in September in conjunction with the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), which represents the global tourism private sector.
    Results indicate that 45 per cent of respondents have already made plans or are starting to make finite plans for their next holiday, while 54 per cent say they are dreaming of when they can travel again.
    “These are really strong numbers.

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    “The fact that 99 percent of travellers surveyed said they are planning a trip or looking forward to the time they can travel again indicates that as concerns about Covid-19 are addressed, leisure travellers will lead the recovery,” said John Lovell, president of Travel Leaders Group.
    In the survey, 23 per cent of respondents said they plan to travel by the end of 2020, 70 per cent said they will travel in 2021 with just 18 per cent saying they will resume traveling in 2022.
    “Consumer uncertainty about the risk of exposure or concerns about being quarantined is a core problem,” said Gloria Guevara, WTTC president.
    “With rapid testing to replace quarantine requirements, enhanced contact tracing and industry-wide standards by sector that can be clearly communicated to the public, we can help alleviate many of those concerns.”
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    UNWTO launches new tourism recovery tracker

    As growing numbers of countries around the world ease restrictions on travel, the World Tourism Organisation has launched a new tourism recovery tracker to support the sector.

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    This represents the latest concrete action undertaken by the United Nations specialised agency as it leads the response of global tourism and guides recovery.
    The most comprehensive tourism dashboard to date, the tracker is the result of a partnership between international organisations and the private sector.
    Available for free, it covers key tourism performance indicators by month, regions and subregions allowing for a real time comparison of the sector recovery across the world and industries.
    All key tourism data in one place
    The UNWTO Tourism Recovery Tracker compiles all the relevant data in one place, giving governments and the private businesses the ability to track the recovery of tourism at global and regional level, alongside information on the top destinations for international tourism.
    The tracker includes data on:
    International tourist arrivals
    Seat capacity in international and domestic air routes
    Air travel bookings
    Hotel searches and bookings
    Occupancy rates
    Demand for short term rentals
    The UNWTO Tourism Recovery Tracker is available for free and is a collaborative effort by a group of partners including the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), ForwardKeys, STR, Sojern and Airdna.
    According to UNWTO latest World Tourism Barometer, the massive drop in international travel demand over the period January-June 2020 translates into a loss of 440 million international arrivals and about US$ 460 billion in export revenues from international tourism.
    This is around five times the loss in international tourism receipts recorded in 2009 amid the global economic and financial crisis.
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    New domestic tourism campaign from VisitEngland

    VisitEngland has launched a UK-wide campaign to encourage people to take a domestic break during autumn and winter.
    The move comes in partnership with the tourism organisations of London, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
    The £5 million ‘Escape the Everyday’ campaign highlights the quality destinations, visitor attractions and experiences on offer across the cities, countryside and coast of the UK to boost tourism across the shoulder season.

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    The campaign kicks off today with a short video and branded content across social media, digital display and ‘on demand’ television advertising.
    The content also drives online traffic to the VisitBritain websitewith ideas and links to information on autumn and winter activities and experiences across the nations and regions.
    The campaign is also calling for tourism businesses, visitor attractions and destinations across the UK to get involved.
    VisitBritain’s latest domestic consumer sentiment research shows that only 19 per cent of Brits surveyed anticipate taking an overnight domestic trip in the UK during September and October, and 21 per cent between November and March.
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    Tourism minister, Nigel Huddleston, said: “Summer may be coming to an end but the UK-wide Escape the Everyday campaign will help get great British breaks booked through the autumn and beyond.
    “There is so much to enjoy right across the UK and the changing of the seasons is the perfect time for a change of scene.
    “We have been helping the industry get back up and running safely throughout the summer but it is important that we continue to support the sector and do our bit where we can to boost local economies by experiencing the best of the UK.”
    VisitEngland – in collaboration with London & Partners, Tourism Northern Ireland, VisitScotland and Visit Wales – has also created a free Escape the Everyday campaign toolkit with marketing materials that destinations and tourism businesses across the UK can download here.
    VisitBritain has forecast a 49 per cent decline in domestic tourism spending in Britain this year equalling a £44.9 billion loss to the economy.
    Inbound tourism spending is forecast to drop 79 per cent equalling a £24 billion loss.
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    UNWTO finds Covid-19 will cost tourism US$460bn in 2020

    International tourist arrivals plunged 93 per cent in June when compared to 2019, with the latest data from the World Tourism Organisation showing the severe impact Covid 19 has had on the sector.
    According to the new issue of the World Tourism Barometer from the United Nations agency, international tourist arrivals dropped by 65 per cent during the first half of the year.
    This represents an unprecedented decrease, as countries around the world closed their borders and introduced travel restrictions in response to the pandemic.
    Over recent weeks, a growing number of destinations have started to open up again to international tourists.
    UNWTO data shows that, as of early September, 53 per cent of destinations had eased travel restrictions.

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    Nevertheless, many governments remain cautious, and this latest report shows that the lockdowns introduced during the first half of the year have had a massive impact on international tourism.
    The sharp and sudden fall in arrivals has placed millions of jobs and businesses at risk.
    According to UNWTO, the massive drop in international travel demand over the period January-June 2020 translates into a loss of 440 million international arrivals and about US$460 billion in export revenues from international tourism.
    This is around five times the loss in international tourism receipts recorded in 2009 amid the global economic and financial crisis.
    UNWTO secretary general, Zurab Pololikashvili, said: “The latest World Tourism Barometer shows the deep impact this pandemic is having on tourism, a sector upon which millions of people depend for their livelihoods.
    “However, safe and responsible international travel is now possible in many parts of the world, and it is imperative that governments work closely with the private sector to get global tourism moving again. Coordinated action is key.”
    Despite the gradual reopening of many destinations since the second half of May, the anticipated improvement in international tourism numbers during the peak summer season in the northern hemisphere did not materialise.
    Europe was the second-hardest hit of all global regions, with a 66 per cent decline in tourist arrivals in the first half of 2020.
    The Americas (down 55 per cent), Africa and the Middle East (both down 57 per cent) also suffered.
    However, Asia and the Pacific, the first region to feel the impact of Covid-19 on tourism, was the hardest hit, with a 72 per cent fall in tourists for the six-month period.
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    Hospitality industry gives mixed response to quarantine move

    Bodies from across the UK tourism industry have given a cautious welcome to a refinement of the quarantine system, but said more must be done to boost the sector.
    Transport secretary, Grant Shapps, earlier explained a more nuanced approach to quarantine restrictions, separating some islands from mainland countries.
    As a result, seven Greek islands have been removed from the current safe list.
    Responding to the decision, an ABTA spokesperson said: “ABTA has been calling for the government to take a regionalised approach to quarantine measures and Foreign Office travel advice to provide greater certainty for businesses and consumers.
    “This announcement regarding travel from specific islands to England is welcome and the industry hopes that this will in turn lead to a more targeted approach such as that adopted in Germany and the Netherlands, which would also reflect the domestic strategy of localised lockdowns.
    “It also, however, highlights the requirement for a more coordinated approach from the home nations to prevent avoidable confusion.”
    The spokesperson added: “The travel industry has long been a powerhouse of economic growth and employment within the economy, yet it has been restricted by government measures which have slowed any recovery.”
    However, while welcoming the decision to tailor quarantine restrictions, a statement from Heathrow called for more testing to be introduced.
    A spokesperson explained: “We welcome the transport secretary’s announcement that testing to shorten quarantine is under active consideration by the government and that airbridges to islands will now be instated where appropriate.
    “If introduced, these vital policy changes would show the government understands how critical the restoration of air travel is to this country’s economic recovery.

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    “The government needs to build on these developments and show global leadership to establish common international standards for testing before flight.”
    Heathrow has been developing its own test facilities as it attempts to encourage the government to introduce a new policy.
    Charlie Cornish, chief executive of MAG, said the move toward more focused quarantine was to be welcomed, but it would not be enough for the aviation industry to recover.
    He explained: “It is good that Grant Shapps is responding to the concerns of the aviation industry, and committing government to look at how testing can be used to reduce the time people need to spend in quarantine.
    “Adopting a regionalised approach to travel corridors is also welcome news and long overdue. 
    “Even though it will initially mean restrictions on travel to some Greek islands, it should enable key markets like the Balearics and Canaries to open up again more quickly.
    “We look forward to seeing more detail about this targeted approach as soon as possible and to working together to continue refining the system of corridors and quarantine, including considering regions within countries on the mainland.”
    Cornish, who has been an outspoken critic of the government policy to date, added: “The top priority should be bringing in a testing regime that will shorten the period of time passengers have to self-isolate.
    “With hundreds of thousands of travel sector jobs at stake and the summer holiday season already behind us, progress must be made on this as a matter of urgency.”
    MAG owns and operates Manchester, London Stansted and East Midlands Airports.
    Santorini is among the islands to have been removed from the safe list
    Gloria Guevara, chief executive of the World Travel & Tourism Council, took a similar tack, welcoming the decision, but calling for further steps.
    “WTTC is encouraged the government is beginning to listen and has now introduced its island policy.
    “This move appears to show a more strategic approach and signals a change from its previous blanket country-wide approach.
    “We look forward to seeing how this is going to be communicated to holidaymakers,” she said.
    “However, this is just scratching the surface.
    “We must abandon wholesale ineffective, destructive and costly quarantines – and replace them with rapid, cost-effective testing on departure at airports.
    “The longer we wait, the more the ailing tourism sector faces collapse.
    “Airport testing on departure and a robust testing and tracing programme, could help revive international business travel, particularly on key routes, such as between London and New York.”
    The WTTC has previously warned some £22 billion looks set to be lost from the UK economy due to the disappearance of international travel this year.
    Finally, Rory Boland, editor of Which? Travel, said the government should reveal more of its thinking when introducing changes.
    “Holidaymakers are acutely aware of the risks involved with foreign travel, but this latest snap change still offers no clarity as to how these decisions are made.
    “This approach continues to cost travellers dearly, either through paying extortionate airfares in the scramble to get home, or because speculation that their destination may be added to the quarantine list causes them to needlessly cancel a holiday.”
    Boland concluded: “It’s clear that the current travel corridor system is not working for passengers, and is further damaging confidence in the sector.
    “A major reassessment of the UK government’s approach is needed to ensure holidaymakers don’t continue to lose money, and tour operators and airlines have a better opportunity to get back on their feet financially.”
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    Travel industry seeks further support in upcoming Budget

    Associations from across the travel industry came together earlier to discuss how they can continue working together to lobby government on the need for specific support to save jobs and businesses in the travel industry, following the coronavirus crisis.
    ABTA, Advantage Travel Partnership, AITO, ATAS, the BTA, the SPAA and UKinbound met via video conference to discuss shared objectives such as regionalising quarantine, introducing testing and ongoing salary and grant support schemes.
    The associations agreed to increase coordination, and the combination of efforts ahead of the Budget this autumn – with regular meetings to exchange insight and knowledge and undertake joint activities to try to secure the targeted support the industry desperately needs.
    Recent research from ABTA, who convened the meeting, revealed that 39,000 jobs have already been lost or are at risk in the industry.
    Many more are in the pipeline as 78 per cent of companies are yet to start redundancy consultations but expect to in the coming months.

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    Luke Petherbridge, director of public affairs at ABTA, said: “The entire travel industry is going through a period of uncertainty and challenge like it has never seen before.
    “It is our job as travel associations to make the case for our industry.
    “We must come together to highlight the vital strategic importance of travel for the wider UK economy, as businesses that underpin the country’s aviation connectivity, and support inward investment and export earnings.
    “Alongside championing the importance of the sector, we must also offer Ministers practical and workable solutions to problems facing the leisure and business travel sectors.”
    ABTA originally launched the Save Future Travel campaign in April which saw over 25,000 emails sent to MPs asking them to support the industry.
    The coalition partners will be looking to build on that platform, as well as engaging with other industry campaigns, and the Future Aviation Group, a group of MPs from across the political spectrum that is supported by ABTA, the AOA, Airlines UK, and other bodies in the aviation sector, to raise awareness in parliament of the need for tailored support.
    The group is looking to involve other interested travel trade bodies and associations, and any organisations that are interested in getting involved are invited to contact ABTA.
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