Tourism maintains a robust performance despite pending woes of Brexit

24 August 2017

Uncertainty surrounding Brexit could see more Brits holiday at home, says tourism expert Professor John Lennon.

“Inevitably there is a degree of economic uncertainty within the UK, facing Brexit, however in tourism terms that has had some positive impacts. The relative value of sterling currency in comparison with US Dollar and EURO has made Scotland a value proposition for visitation.This, coupled with perceived issues of safety in many competitor destinations and strong performance in domestic tourism, has all helped make this an extremely positive year for tourism,” says Professor John Lennon.

The Director of GCU’s Moffat Centre for Travel and Tourism Business Development was speaking to BBC Scotland, following another very strong performance by the tourism sector.

HE said:“Data from VisitScotland for the first quarter of 2017 suggest a rise of 13% in international visitation and a 9% rise in domestic visitation and trips to Scotland up by 26%, all of which is reinforced by the Moffat Centre’s own National Research on Scottish Accommodation and visitor attraction performance.”

Professor Lennon continued:  “Scotland is a strong brand and an established destination. We have also certainly benefitted from the macroeconomic factors that affect tourism at the present time. The degree of economic uncertainty within the UK as we face Brexit,  favours ‘staycation’ for UK residents particularly in their second / short break holidays.”

Commenting on the investment of the Scottish Government into tourism, he suggested that Wales, Northern Ireland and England could look to Scotland’s success as an example of continued financial commitment to the sector.  This, together with significant investment from the private sector across Scotland, has driven significant growth.

"The NC 500 is a great example of how we distribute tourism to some of the more remote parts of our nation. You have to create a product with interest that catalyses aspiration.”  Addressing the issue of ‘overtourism’ in some popular tourism locations, such as Skye and the Edinburgh Festival, Professor Lennon suggests the task is about distributing tourism to the range and variety of our cities, rural offers, highlands and islands.

“In island terms, we have more than 790 - so the task is distributing visitors beyond Skye to the vast contrasting and breathtaking range of islands we have.”

He acknowledged the environment had dramatically altered with the provision of on-line consolidators such as Airbnb and other providers, which have catalysed a whole new supply of accommodation impacting on price and quality.

Click here for the full BBC Radio interview (listen in 1.43)