United Kingdom - Country Commercial Guide
Travel & Tourism

This is a best prospect industry sector for this country. Includes a market overview and trade data.

Last published date: 2022-09-11


The UK is the largest market for international visitors to the United States.  However, the travel industry was one of the most badly affected business sectors during the pandemic.  In 2019, 4.8 million visitors traveled to the US, while in 2021, COVID era restrictions reduced that number to less than half a million.  Since the removal of travel restrictions and requirements in both directions in June 2022, both countries are focused on rebuilding. Current data suggests the market is on track to reach pre-pandemic levels by 2024. 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 have been introduced in 2022.

London Heathrow continues to be the dominate 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.  City pair services from major American and UK transatlantic carriers resumed in the first half of 2022; however,  the number of flights operating on specific routes has not reached pre-pandemic numbers.

Pent-up demand in the UK market has created massive delays at London’s major airports during the busy summer 2022 travel season as airports and carriers struggle to reach pre-pandemic employment numbers. The leisure market has seen a faster recovery than the industry anticipated across the UK and globally.  The corporate sector is also expected to grow through 2023 as business travelers return to in-person trade events and meetings.

The UK has a very mature and advanced travel and tourism industry. The sector dedicated to promoting/selling the United States 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 the 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.

Leading Sub-Sectors

  • 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, which is 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. Travel Week Europe for 2022 will take place in Frankfurt, Germany.

IPW 2023 – 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 San Antonio, Texas will be the host city is 2023.


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/

IGLTA: https://www.iglta.org/