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THE FUTURE OF THE TOURISM INDUSTRY IN THE UKOver the past couple of decades, the tourism industry has been growing exponentially.According to recently polled data the number of tourists travelling abroad grew by 4.6 % in 2015to 1,184 million (World Tourism Organization UNWTO, 2016). Today tourism is a great foreignexchange earner for some of the world’s countries and indeed runs the economies of others. In2015 for instance, the tourism industry generated foreign revenue of up to US$ 1.5 trillionworldwide (World Tourism Organization UNWTO, 2016). It has thus become increasinglyimportant to have an in-depth study and analysis of tourism trends, factors that influence tourismdemand and the travel market to come up with ways to predict the future of the industry.In the United Kingdom, the tourism industry is of particular importance as one of theleading revenue earners for the member states. Due to beautiful landscapes and numeroushistorical monuments that traverse the United Kingdom, it is no wonder that the union is the 8thlargest tourist destination in the world. With the growing competitiveness in this particularindustry, it has become a key priority to be able to ascertain future trends and possible changesthat may affect tourism in Britain in the coming days. To do this, it is important to analyzestatistics and provide an outlook of the market thus far.In an increasingly saturated marketplace, the development and promotion of tourismdestinations must be guided by analytical frameworks that focus on the concepts ofcompetitiveness (Hassan, S. S. (2000), Journal of travel research. 239-245). In the UnitedKingdom, there are several factors that influence tourism demand. Most of these factors areeither socio- economic or environmental. One of the main factors that have significantly influenced the number of tourists that visitBritain is the economic stability of the union. The UK is one of the countries that have been hitthe most by the recent economic recession and in the period that it has taken to rebuild a stableeconomy the tourism industry has been taking great hits. According the World TourismOrganization (2015), the subsequent fluctuation in exchange rates has led to dwindling numbersof tourists that view the United Kingdom as a preferable destination as compared to othercountries that offer better packages.The prices of commodities also affect the way visitors perceive a tourist destination. Ifprices are too high, most tourists will find cheaper destinations that offer the same products.Complimentary goods such as prices of air tickets tend to be a determinant of how many tourists
will choose a particular destination over the rest of the available choices. The living standards inthe United Kingdom are also relatively high as compared to other competing nations such asSpain. This can be seen as an obstacle to increasing the number of visiting tourists.In an increasingly volatile world, there is also the issue of security. Terrorism risk tendsto intimidate the traveling public more severely than any other factors such as natural disaster(Sonmez et al., 1999). In 2015, an increased global concern about safety and security was one ofthe three major factors that influenced the flow of tourists (World Tourism OrganizationUNWTO, 2016). The emergence of domestic as well as international terror cells and networksinfluence a number of tourists that consider the United Kingdom as a viable tourist destination.In recent years Britain has been considered a target for terror activities by extremist groupswithin and outside its borders. This realization has gone a long way in dissuading potentialtourists from considering the UK as a holiday destination.Different countries have different political structures and ideologies. The politicalrelationship between countries can be a factor that helps build or destroy the tourism industry ofa country. Tourist attitudes towards destination countries more often than not go hand in handwith their government’s perceptions of these countries, and the United Kingdom is no different.For example, the Russian annexation of Crimea in 2014 led to a strain in political ties betweenBritain and Russia. This resulted in most of the Russian population viewing Britain negativelyand considering other alternative tourist destinations over the United Kingdom. The result was afall in the number of tourists that visited Britain from Eastern Europe. The mode and means of transport also play a key role in the demand for tourism. Whilemost parts of the United Kingdom boast of a comprehensive and well-developed transportnetwork, some remote places might still be lacking in efficient means of transportation. Some ofthese remote areas turn out to be potential tourist attraction sites but due to the lack of properways to access them, their full potential is never realized.There are also the changes in the climate. Nature-based tourism accounts for a largesegment of the tourism sector and with the threat of global warming, changes in the weather havebecome increasingly unpredictable. Warm climates and sunny beaches that once appealed to alarge percentage of tourists are no longer a guarantee, and this has caused an adverse impact onthe growth of the tourism industry (Martin, M. B. G. 2005). The wet climate in parts of Britainwith tourist attraction sites has also been a dissuading factor.
Internal factors such as economic policies, cultural factors, and foreign policies also playa great role in influencing tourism. Tourists will choose destinations with lenient economicpolicies such as those that govern foreign exchange over those with stringent measures. TheUnited Kingdom in its part has been revising most of its policies as far as foreign revenue goes tokeep up with competing tourism markets. The incorporation of several diverse cultures withinthe British population also goes a long way in promoting the United Kingdom as a desirabletourist destination. Britain is home to people from different religious, social and racialbackgrounds and as such might be an attractive destination in comparison to other competingcountries.The foreign policies that are in place can cause a negative as well as a positive impact asfar as the tourism industry goes. While these policies may favor some countries, other countriestend to have poor diplomatic ties with the United Kingdom. For instance, it was not until recentlythat Britain established formal ties with Cuba. In this particular scenario, tourism between thetwo countries may have been strained, and the notion of Cuban nationals considering the UnitedKingdom as a tourist destination was almost ridiculous. On the other hand, Britain has enjoyedthe privilege of being a member state of the European Union for the better part of the last threedecades and as such has enjoyed a tremendous boost in tourist numbers from fellow memberstates of the union. This shows the positive impact that good diplomatic ties can have on thetourist industry. Current trends in TourismThe growth of tourist arrivals in the year 2016 is predicted at between 3.5% and 4.5%(World Tourism Organization UNWTO, 2016). Due to the dynamic nature of the tourismindustry, it is important to understand current as well as future trends in the sector so as to beable to predict the future of the industry at large. The development of technology and a growingsense of environmental awareness are the main factors that drive the changes in these trends. With the emergence of different types of tourism such as sport and eco-tourism people nolonger travel to new destinations just for leisure purposes. Sports tourism, for instance, has beena popular trend over the past couple of years with a large number of people traveling to particulardestinations for the purpose of sporting activities. A good example of such a scenario is the ATPworld tour that is a tennis tournament involving players traveling to compete in different world
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