New data released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) shows that although the UK experienced a record number of visitors in 2017, business trips decreased.
There were 39.2 million total visits by overseas residents in 2017, an increase of 3 per cent compared to the previous year, while UK residents made 72.8 million overseas trips – 4 per cent more than 2016.
However, only 6.8 million overseas trips by UK residents were for business purposes – a 5 per cent drop compared to 2016. Likewise, visits to the UK from overseas for business fell by 4 per cent from 9.2 million in 2016 to 8.8 million in 2017.
Overseas visitors continue to pump money into the UK economy, according to the ONS, with data showing they spent £24.5 billion on visits to the country, an increase of 9 per cent. Spending by UK residents on trips to other countries rose 2 per cent to £44.8 billion.
While Germany proved to be the most popular business destination for UK residents at 839,000 visits across the year (an increase of 3.3 per cent on 2016), they spent the most money for any one country in the US – £902 million to be exact – and also spent longer during their trips at 5,735,000 room nights (up from just over 5 million in 2016.
Brits made 5.3 million trips across Europe, accounting for nearly 23 million nights and £2.7 billion – down from more than 5.5 million trips in 2016 yet staying relatively the same on spend.
With experts also predicting higher hotel rates in certain markets, the question now is whether UK-based travel managers will face more pressure to cut costs for the business trips employees do make.