By Róisín Donnelly, head of accommodation services at the European Tour Operators Association (ETOA).
The London market, according to ETOA members, has had a strong start to the year.
Operators, attractions and accommodation providers alike are universally positive in their business review, with all commenting that the US market has been the star performer, with further double-digit growth anticipated.
In June, some companies reported a drop off in domestic business, in particular school groups. This drop off was seen as a short-term reaction to the attacks at London Bridge. However, the outlook for London continues to be strong.
ETOA members in Scotland are also reporting a very strong year. Again, the US market is outperforming others and the Chinese market is extremely buoyant too.
Factors contributing to this growth are the exchange rate, making Scotland a value for money destination, Scotland’s image as a safe place to visit and film tourism – with the TV series Outlander showcasing the best of Scotland’s natural beauty.
The inbound market to Ireland is showing a mixed picture. Whilst the inbound market from the UK to Ireland is in decline, around 10% from February to April, the North American market has demonstrated growth of 26% and Australia and ‘developing markets’ are showing growth of 17%.
Constraints in the market are accommodation capacity in key cities and corporate/mice demand for Dublin, in particular. Northern Ireland’s hotels are reporting strong growth and the outlook appears to be steady.