An Insider’s Take on UK Outbound Tourism Trends

Lauren Voges

March 10, 2020

Wondering which tourists to target with your next marketing campaign? The UK’s outbound tourism market is the fourth largest in the world, making the British tourist a character worth considering. 

What sort of holiday activities are British tourists interested in? What are they looking for in a tourist attraction? Find the answers to these questions and more in this guide to UK outbound tourism trends and find ways to attract British tourists to your venue.

The insider’s perspective on UK outbound tourism trends

Tiqets Regional Manager UK and Ireland at Tiqets

We talked to Alexis Peppis, a Surrey native and Tiqets’ UK & Ireland Regional Manager, about how best to capitalise on UK outbound tourism trends.

Before joining Tiqets as a Regional Manager, Alexis worked for several large travel brands, including Smart Destinations, Travelzoo, and lastminute.com. He has over 14 years of experience in the ticketing industry. Here, he shares his insights into the UK’s outbound tourism market.

Tiqets: What is the best channel to reach potential customers from the UK? 

Alexis: While traditional forms of marketing still have a place within the tourism industry, smart marketers know that the way we access information has changed. For consumers to take in a piece of information, it has to be presented in an eye-catching way, and it shouldn’t be too detailed. Users are constantly scrolling on their phones so you really only have a split second to reel them in via online marketing channels. 

YouTube is another marketing channel worth investing in. We all know that Netflix usage now dwarves terrestrial TV channels, but what may surprise you is that 18-34-year olds spend more time on YouTube than Netflix.

Reality TV is pretty big in the UK and this has led to a fair amount of influencer marketing on social media. There are also roughly 24 million UK users on Instagram, so social media is a strong marketing channel too.

One last thing to keep in mind when considering marketing channels is that a poll in 2017 showed that 92% of people trust recommendations from other people, even if they don’t know them. So, combining social media with reviews is a real sweet spot.

Social media is a key marketing channel.
Photo by dole777 on Unsplash

Tiqets: How do people research activities/vacations in the UK?

Alexis: The UK audience are cost-conscious, but they’re not cheap! Brits budget to ensure they maximise leisure time. They are savvy researchers and will look online for the best experiences at the best prices and in the best places. Tourist destinations need to cover those three bases to capture the UK audience. 

Images are also great as many Brits have an aspirational ‘keeping up with the Joneses’ mentality; they want to be seen having a great time on holiday and they want to go on envy-worthy holidays.

Tiqets: What features are important in an attraction?

Alexis: Audio guides are important – UK tourists tend not to be as multilingual as their European peers, yet they’re fiercely independent and like to potter around at their own pace through attractions. So, to ensure Brits spend more time at your attraction and to get better engagement out of them, attractions should have audio guides available.

Strangely, catering outweighs temporary exhibits when it comes to drawing a UK audience, so make sure you’ve got a well-stocked café. 

Brits also like to collect souvenirs, so ensuring a high level of engagement with your venue will lead to greater secondary spending. Translation: the Brits love a fridge magnet!

Uk tourists appreciate an audio guide when visiting museums.
Photo by Mike Kotsch on Unsplash

Tiqets: Which regions of the world are popular with UK tourists?

Alexis: Europe is the top region, with Spain dominating the market. However, some long-haul destinations like North America and Australia are proving to be popular too.

Tiqets: What sort of attractions do UK tourists like?

Alexis: British tourists are a cultural lot, so museums and art galleries still top the list in terms of things to do. Heritage centres are also a favourite.

Museums and galleries are one of the most popular attractions among UK tourists.
Photo by gilber franco on Unsplash

Tiqets: What kinds of holidays are popular with UK tourists?

Alexis: When you spend most of your life on a rainy island, being a sunseeker at heart is almost inevitable (probably why Spain is the UK outbound market’s top destination, with week-long holidays booked annually).

UK tourists are however becoming more experiential, with the popularity of city breaks growing year-on-year and the number of city trips rising annually.

Tiqets: What additional information do UK tourists usually want to see when choosing an attraction to visit? 

Alexis: UK tourists don’t like to faff about, so clear instructions on how to reach an attraction are vital. If they think your venue is easy to get to, they’re more likely to convert and make a booking.

Tiqets: What’s more popular – group travelling or solo travelling?

Alexis: Solo travel still leads the way on the whole for Brits; however, the older demographic do favour a packaged holiday.

5 useful statistics about UK outbound tourism

1. The UK’s top five holiday destinations are Spain, France, Italy, the US, and the Republic of Ireland. (Finder.com)

2. UK residents make more visits abroad than tourists make to the UK, and the total amount spent by UK residents during their visits abroad is higher than the total spent by tourists visiting the UK. (UK Office for National Statistics)

3. 88% of the British population went on holiday in 2018. (Abta.com)

4. The most popular time to go on holiday for the British population in 2019 was over the summer (July-August). (UK Office for National Statistics)

5. In 2019, British tourists spent a combined total of £48 billion on their holidays – 6% more than what was spent in 2018. (Finder.com)

5 tips for attracting British tourists

1. Be more influential

Dip your toes into the influencer marketing pool. According to Alexis, influencer marketing is a top-notch way to snag the attention of your UK audience. Tap a few influencers to give reviews of your venue on YouTube or Instagram to boost your venue in the eyes of the Brits.

2. Cover all your bases

British tourists are savvy researchers, and when planning their next holiday, they’ll be on the lookout for the best activities, the best prices, and the best locations. When marketing your venue, make sure that you provide all this information – what your product is, how much it is, and where it is – on your website. Including an FAQs page is a good way to offer any additional information that people might usually look for.

3. Lean into café culture

Who doesn’t love a good culinary experience after a morning, an afternoon, or a day of exploring? Offering a decent place to sip on some tea and nibble on some snacks will score you points with your British visitors. Make sure you highlight any catering options on your website to draw those visitors who may need a snack to fully enjoy the experience.

4. The fridge magnet is still king

The Brits are avid souvenir collectors so don’t be afraid to boast about your on-site gift shop and advertise your array of souvenirs. Promote your gift shop, and what you can find in it, on your website. Got any limited-edition souvenirs? Make sure you feature these on your website and social media channels – and of course, front and centre in your gift shop.

5. Help them picture it

Like many potential visitors, UK tourists are a visual bunch. As mentioned by Alexis, you can appeal to their aspirational side with good quality imagery on your website and on your social media channels. Bonus points for giving them something that wouldn’t look out of place on their own Instagram profiles. 


Now that you’re all clued-up on marketing to British tourists, find out how you can appeal to the Japanese outbound tourism market, or get in touch to speak with our team directly about how you can attract UK tourists.

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