Despite Brexit, Business Travel to the U.K. Is as Strong as Ever

Author: Lane Nieset       

Brexit

Travel to the United Kingdom is on the rise despite Brexit. Edinburgh — the Leith shore of the Scottish city is shown here — saw a 16% increase in booked room nights in 2018. (Marketing Edinburgh)

As the plan for Brexit continues to hit roadblocks in the U.K., business travel is going in the opposite direction — with travel growing by 8 percent across the top 250 U.K. cities. According to Advantage Travel Partnership, the U.K.’s largest independent travel agent and travel management company, in its 2018 Hotels Market Report, nearly 6 million rooms were booked across the U.K. by business travellers in 2018.

Regional capitals proved the strongest, as London jumped by 5 percent in terms of rooms booked in 2018 versus 2017, and Edinburgh grew by an even more impressive number, with booked room nights increasing by 16 percent. Neil Armorgie, Advantage’s global product director, said, “It is clear that the corporate hotel sector continues to grow, with another significant increase in bookings year-on-year, made by independent TMCs. Despite continued uncertainty in both the global and U.K. economies, including Brexit, hotel room night demand is at record levels in many destinations.”

One of the ways the region is boosting business is with flagship event MeetGB, a two-day showcase held in April at the De Vere Beaumont Estate in Windsor that brought together more than 70 VisitBritain partners, from Wales to Liverpool. Taking place for the second year, MeetGB offered buyers a chance to see the country and its venues first-hand with educational visits around the U.K. to destinations in Northern England, South Wales, Aberdeen and Brighton.

As Brexit developments continue to unfold, VisitBritain is making the planning process easier with updated travel advice. EU nationals visiting the U.K. can continue travelling on ID cards until 2021, for example, while delegates who are citizens of the U.S., Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Singapore, and South Korea will have an even smoother experience entering the U.K.’s airports and Eurostar terminals thanks to e-gates, which will reduce time spent in queues at the border.

With tourism comprising nearly 80 percent of the U.K.’s GDP — and business making up a large chunk of that number — the country strives to show the best of its destinations despite the confusion forming around Brexit. As a recent BVEP policy document for the U.K. events industry states: “Politics may be unpredictable, but there’s absolute certainty that support for the events industry in Britain will reap big benefits in terms of greater trade, increased exports, more inward investment, stronger community cohesion and higher levels of civic and national pride.”