Scottish hospitality and leisure industry set for bumper year, finds global research from Barclays
• Almost half (42%) of Scottish holidaymakers say they would choose home over away, opting for a staycation in the UK rather than international destinations compared to UK figure of 35%
• Two thirds of Scottish respondents (66%) selected Scotland as their top destination for UK holidays, highlighting a preference to holiday at – or very close to – home
• Scotland is just as popular with international tourists, coming second only to London as a potential UK break destination
• Younger holidaymakers are driving tech-led leisure from smartphone hotel check-ins to Apps for ordering bar drinks
Scottish hotels and the leisure industry are set for a record year with a significant increase in both home and international visitors planning holidays in the UK.
The Barclays Corporate Banking report, Destination UK: driving growth in the UK hospitality and leisure sector reveals the 2017 holiday and leisure preferences of almost 10,000 guests from the UK, continental Europe, the US, Middle East, Asia and Australia.
Over a quarter of Scottish holidaymakers (27%) plan to spend more time on holidays within the UK this year with a quarter (26%) also expecting to be spending more money on UK breaks. Across the UK nearly two fifths (36%) of British holidaymakers are planning exclusively UK holidays this year, and a further 16% expect to spend over three quarters of their total holiday time in the UK this year.
The most popular holidays for Scottish holidaymakers are close to home
Two fifths (42%) of Scottish holidaymakers say that they would now choose a staycation over an international holiday, even if time and finances allowed. A figure that is higher than the national level (35%).
Scottish guests are increasingly looking for holidays that are close to home. Two thirds (66%) of Scots selected Scotland as their top destination for UK holidays, showing the importance of local links.
Nationally, half of respondents choosing a UK break described the familiarity of food, language and travel options as making the UK ‘hassle free’ with 31% now more aware of UK holiday options.
Nearly four in ten UK respondents (38%) of those citing cost as a factor behind a UK break said the weaker pound made holidays in the UK preferable to those abroad, and 39% said a domestic holiday represents better value for money in 2017. The research reveals that the average British budget for UK breaks is £800 with over a fifth (22%) of holidaymakers planning to spend more than £1000 on their UK getaways. During their staycations, Brits also plan to spend an average of £309 on accommodation, £152 on dining out and £121 on shopping.
The research also demonstrates the enduring appeal of Scotland to international holidaymakers, which was voted the second most popular choice (44%) for a potential UK break, second only to London. Scotland is especially popular with potential guests from Germany (50%), Australia (49%) and Russia (60%).
At a UK level, high profile advertising campaigns (29%), the weaker pound (31%), greater spending power (30%), and TV programmes like The Crown which feature the UK (22%) were all among the reasons cited for Britain’s appeal.
Guests from the Scotland look for personalised experiences on holiday
Holidaymakers in Scotland are foodies, with over half (52%) of guests selecting the trend towards hotels emphasising their food offer as the most likely draw to pick one holiday over another, compared to a national average of 44%. The trend towards experiential breaks such as ice hotels or glamping is also a major attraction, with 31% of Scotland’s holidaymakers saying such an offer would make a leisure provider more attractive. Almost one third (29%) also appreciated the personal touch, citing the trend for curated visits and experiences as more likely to make them choose one leisure providers over the other.
Younger UK consumers are more interested in a high-tech approach to the leisure sector than older consumers. Over a third (36%) of 18-34s would be more likely to use a bar that invested in automated drinks dispensing, compared to just 6% of the 55 and overs. Younger consumers are also more comfortable with automated ordering in restaurants, with 43% of 18-34s saying they would be more likely to use such a restaurant compared to 14% of the 55 and overs.
Jamie Grant, Head of Business and Corporate Banking at Barclays, commented: “Scotland is well placed to benefit from a booming year for British staycations and with many holidaymakers now choosing to stay close to home, the importance of marketing local attractions and investing in new technologies and experiences to drive footfall is clear. Our food and drink industry is thriving so it’s no surprise that it is high on the agenda of Scottish holidaymakers. Food tourism is a huge opportunity for operators in Scotland who have a wealth of quality producers right on their doorstep.”
International holidaymakers influenced by Brexit and the Pound
The majority of international holidaymakers (51%) report that the vote to leave the EU has had no impact on their likelihood to visit the UK, and nearly a third (31%) reported that they are more likely to visit the UK than before the Referendum. However, the study also highlighted the role of the UK as a tourism hub with nearly a quarter (24%) of those who said they would be less likely to visit the UK post-Brexit citing worries about onward travel to other European destinations. This was especially important for guests from Australia (44%) who are potentially looking to combine their visit with multiple European destinations owing to the longer travel distance.
Visas are also a concern as of the 10% of international tourists who said they are less interested in visiting the UK today than 12 months ago- nearly 1 in 5 (19%) cite this as a worry.
Other international trends revealed by the research include the regions visitors are keenest to visit, with London (67%) and Scotland (44%) topping the list. Interest in Oxford and Cambridge is also notably higher for Chinese guests. Overall, tourists are eager to experience the UK’s landmarks (51%), history and museums (44%) and natural landscapes (41%).
The average length of a UK visit is just over one week at 9 days and the average budget per family, including airfares is £3443. However, American and Chinese guests blow even larger budgets on their UK holidays with average spends of £5230 and £5424 respectively. Visitors from China and the US also have significantly larger shopping budgets, with visitors from these countries having an average of £800 and £713 to spend in British shops respectively, compared to the overall budget of £453 set aside by international visitors on average.
“Whilst many international visitors may default to London, Scotland follows closely behind. The international appetite for holidays that take in landmarks, our history and the natural landscape shows that the potential is there for the Scottish hospitality sector to take a greater slice of the UK travel market,” commented Jamie Grant.