VisitBritain upgrade 2022 forecast

VisitBritain upgrade 2022 tourism forecast

In light of a strong start to the year VisitBritain have upgraded their 2022 inbound forecast for visits and spend:

  • 26.7m inbound visits (65% of 2019)
  • £21.6bn in visitor spend (76% of 2019)

Commenting on the revised forecasts VB added that strong arrivals from the US and GCC are driving the recovery of the visitor economy and that they would be seizing this opportunity for growth by adding GCC markets to their Autumn campaign alongside the US and Europe.

They also predict inbound tourism spend from Europe will reach 81% of 2019 levels in 2022, while long haul spend will reach 72%


For the full calendar year, inbound visits are forecast to increase to 26.7 million and spending to £21.6 billion. These are 65% and 76% respectively of the visits and spend levels seen in 2019.

This is an upgrade on our previous forecast, made in February, due to a stronger than expected start to the year. The previous forecast was 21.1 million visits, and spending of £16.9 billion.

The Office for National Statistics has released data for the first four months of the year. The UK received 5.9 million visits in the first 4 months of 2022. Inbound visitors spent £4.3bn from January to April 2022.

Inbound visits and spend were sharply down in December and January from their November level due to the impact of the Omicron variant. Visits and spend then picked up quickly from February to April.

However, recent data on flight bookings shows that bookings have fallen significantly from their April/May high point, when they were running at more than three quarters of 2019 levels, to less than two thirds of 2019 levels. Disruption to ports and flight cancellations, as well as growing cost of living pressures, have dampened short term prospects. Recent data at time of writing suggests that the bookings picture has stabilised.

The forecast assumes that the bookings picture will improve a little from its current level although will not return to its high point in April/May for the rest of this year. By year end we are forecasting inbound visits to be around 69% of 2019 levels and inbound spending around 78%.

We expect spend per visit to remain higher than the pre-pandemic norm, due to longer average length of stay as well as inflation.

In the aggregate, visits from Europe recovered faster, relative to 2019, than from long haul markets in the early part of the year. By late 2022 they are forecast to be recovering at similar paces, although there will significant variation within long haul markets in particular; strong booking numbers have been seen recently from some long haul regions (e.g. North America) while some other regions will lag (e.g. East Asia).

Forecasting at this time remains difficult, given the fast-moving situation and the unique circumstances. Events have been moving fast, not just due to the COVID situation but more recently to port problems and flight cancellations, and a global cost of living crisis. We stress that this central scenario is merely one possible outturn and involves several assumptions and simplifications due to the fast-moving and uncertain situation. VisitBritain’s central scenario forecasts therefore reflect a snapshot in time based on current knowledge.

These forecasts will be revised again later in 2022. You can find more detail on the latest 2022 figures here

Published 16 August 2022