The UK is the third largest market for international visitors to the United States, after Mexico and Canada. However, the travel industry was one of the most badly affected business sectors during the pandemic. In 2021, fewer than half a million British citizens traveled to the United States. 2022 witnessed a significant comeback in tourist numbers, with 3.46 million visitors coming to the U.S. A key factor will be the resumption or re-launch of air routes between major cities in the UK and U.S., including multiple new routes that were introduced in 2022.
London Heathrow continues to be the dominant UK airport connecting the U.S. to the United Kingdom. Flights to major U.S. cities also operate form London Gatwick, Manchester, Edinburgh, and Glasgow airports. In the first half of 2023, flight numbers are up by over 20 percent from the same period in 2022. It is projected that flight numbers to the United States will surpass pre-pandemic numbers by the end of 2023.
The UK has a very mature and advanced travel and tourism industry. The sector dedicated to promoting/selling the U.S. as a destination is wide, varied, and well organized. It includes airlines, tour operators, travel agencies, ground transport, accommodation, and theme parks/attraction providers. U.S. Destination Management Organization (DMO’s)/Tourism Authorities are widely represented in the UK market via third party representation companies.
The main industry body is the Visit USA Association UK, which publishes a U.S. Travel Planner Guide and organizes industry-focused activities in the market annually. Activities include trade shows, trainings, general meetings for members, and networking events. Brand USA is also well established in the market, with a dedicated UK team based in London. Both organizations work closely with the travel trade and travel media. Consumer travel media is very influential in the UK market. All UK national and regional newspapers carry dedicated travel sections on a weekly basis (usually on Saturday or Sunday, when readership is higher). Several glossy travel magazines are published for the market on a monthly /bi-monthly basis. The top US destinations for UK travelers are New York City, Florida, California, and Las Vegas.
- Travel Tech
- Meetings, Conferences, Incentive, and Exhibitions (MICE)
- Visit Friends and Family (VFR)
- World Travel Market – a leading global travel and tourism show for trade only, held annually in London.
- Brand USA Travel Week Europe – a dedicated USA Travel and Tourism week for trade only. It includes an appointment format trade show, roundtables/panel discussions and networking events.
- IPW 2024 – organized by the U.S Travel Association, it is the official trade show when Destination USA hosts approved international travel industry buyers and media from around the world. The show is held annually, and Los Angeles, California will be the host city in 2024.
Visit USA Association UK: https://www.visitusa.org.uk/
Brand USA: https://www.thebrandusa.com/
Association Of British Travel Agents (ABTA): https://www.abta.com/
Scottish Passenger Agents Association (SPAA): https://spaa.org/
Business Travel Association: https://www.thebta.org.uk/