During the period of the financial crisis in 2008-9 and beyond there is some evidence to suggest that UK residents changed their travel behaviour and elected to take vacations within the UK rather than abroad. This change in behaviour has been referred to as the rise of the ‘staycation’.
UK residents spending more on day visits
In 2012, UK-based tourists and overseas tourists spent £129 billion on goods and services within the UK economy, up from £116 billion in 2008. Tourism day visit expenditure by UK residents is an important element of this expenditure and this has risen steadily from £47 billion in 2009 to £57 billion in 2012 – a 17% increase. Tourism day visit expenditure in 2012 accounted for 44% of all tourism expenditure in the UK1.
Figure 1: Tourism expenditure, 2008-2012 (£ millions)
UK residents spending less on foreign holidays
Expenditure by UK residents on visits within the UK that include at least one overnight stay has risen from £21 billion in 2008 to £25 billion in 2012, an increase of 18%. At the same time, UK resident expenditure on visits abroad fell significantly from £36.8 billion in 2008 to £31.7 billion in 2009, a 14% decrease. This was likely driven by the impact of the financial crisis, but expenditure on overseas visits has still not recovered to previous levels. In 2012, £32.5 billion was spent on visits abroad, a 12% decrease on 2008 levels. All this is evidence of the ‘staycation’ phenomenon as UK residents spent less on overseas trips and more on domestic holidays following the financial crisis.
The ‘staycation effect’ has not been mirrored by a reduction in expenditure within the UK by overseas residents. Indeed, this expenditure has been on an upward trend in recent years, increasing from £19.6 billion in 2010 to £21 billion in 2011 and £21.9 billion in 2012, a rise of 12% over the period.
Figure 2: The “staycation”: Changing patterns of expenditure by UK residents 2008-2012 (£ millions)
Figure 3: Percentage change in UK tourism expenditure, 2008-2012
The increasing value of tourism in the UK economy
Tourism Direct Gross Value Added (GVA) is a measure of how much of the output of industries that serve tourists is accounted for by tourism consumption or expenditure. This remained flat at £49 billion between 2008 and 2010 but increased by 8% to £53 billion in 2011 (estimates for 2012 are not currently available).
Looking in more detail at Tourism Direct GVA we can see that transport and travel services generate the most output, rising to £15 billion in 2011 from a low of £13 billion in 2009. Food and Beverage Services and Culture, Sport and Recreation Activities have seen a rise in Tourism Direct GVA between 2009 and 2011. Interestingly, the accommodation sector experienced a rise in output during the financial crisis period between 2008 and 2009 from £8 billion to £9 billion, a 16% rise. This is evidence again of the ‘staycation’ phenomenon and the increase in domestic overnight stays that resulted from that.
Between 2009 and 2010, Tourism Direct GVA in the accommodation sector fell back by 10% but was still at a higher level than in 2008. The increase in Tourism Direct GVA for the sector as a whole in 2011 was largely driven by increases in output in Transport and Travel Services, Food and Beverage Services and Culture Sports and Recreation Activities which all saw significant increases in output between 2010 and 2011.
Figure 4: Tourism direct GVA by tourism industry (£ millions)
These statistics were compiled and analysed by the Tourism Intelligence Unit in the Public Policy Analysis Division. If you would like to find out more about our tourism statistics please go the Economic Value of Tourism page on the ONS website and see further stories, for example on tourism employment. If you have any comments or suggestions, we would like to hear them. Please email email@example.com.
1Data on tourism expenditure are at current prices which are not adjusted to remove the effects of inflation