Last ‘Britain & Ireland Marketplace’ before Brexit reports overall positive outlook for 2020

Delegates at the last Britain & Ireland Marketplace (BIM) before Brexit, held on 28 January at the London Hilton Park Lane, reported a buoyant outlook for 2020, tempered by a softening of bookings to UK & Ireland from Europe and cancellations from the Chinese market due to Coronavirus.

This year, BIM hosted 250 buyers and suppliers selling UK and Ireland from within the ETOA and UKInbound memberships. Over 6,500 meetings took place over the course of the day.

Tom Jenkins, CEO of ETOA said: “There are good market conditions for the UK and Ireland tourism sector in 2020. During the Brexit transition period, we have certainty. There will be no change to travel arrangements for visitors or workers during 2020 entering the UK or EU. There will also be no change to travel arrangements for non-EU nationals travelling to the UK. Transport between the UK and the EU also remains unaffected during the transition period.

“But we don’t yet know what the landscape will be beyond transition. According to the latest data from the ONS, there seems to be a weakening of demand for the UK within Europe. Whether this is down to adverse feelings due to Brexit, or the possibility of border delays, or the benefit of a low pound wearing thin, is difficult to say. If the UK refuses to recognise entry for EU nationals carrying ID cards, that may also place a material block on some visitors, and we could see uncertainty return for 2021 bookings.”

ETOA updated its ETOA updated its Brexit guidance pages on its website on 30 January 2020 following the ratification of the withdrawal agreement.

Joss Croft, CEO of UKinbound said: “The inbound sector has seen very positive growth recently with visitor numbers up 5% to 10.7 million between August and October 2019, compared to 2018 numbers.

“The outlook for 2020 is also looking bright with many of our members reporting strong sales from long-haul markets. VisitBritain’s forecasts also indicate that 2020 is set to be a record year for inbound tourism to the UK, a prediction that is shared by many businesses in the industry.

We are concerned about flat sales from Europe at the moment, which we think is predominantly down to the Brexit ‘effect’ but VisitBritain will be undertaking extensive promotional activity in Europe post 31 January.”

Delegates also reported concerns over cancellations from the Chinese market across the peak Chinese New Year period due to travel bans imposed because of the spread of Coronavirus. Recently, this market has been providing a welcome uplift in sales during the UK & Ireland’s low-season period.

“We estimate that about 7% of all annual outbound tourism from China takes place during the Chinese New Year was due to leave China before the travel ban took place on the 27th of January; but the evolving situation led to approximately 60% of the groups being cancelled. So, with caution, it is possible that two-thirds of the visitors expected to arrive in Europe over this period have not done so.” said Tom Jenkins. “We are now looking at a total absence of bookings and arrivals from China.”


5 February 2020

Contact details:

ETOA, contact Jules Ugo or Frances Tuke at LOTUS on 020 7953 7470 /  /

UKinbound, contact Lauren Broughton at Diligent Communications on 07725 865 063 /