Image Source – Visit Britain



Welcome back to the Hospitality Hero blog, this week I share some of my reactions and responses to the VisitBritain’s inbound tourism forecast for 2024.

It’s great to see that the UK’s tourism body, VisitBritain, has projected a strong growth trajectory for the country’s tourism in 2024. Although the forecast shows inbound travel to the UK will still be below pre-pandemic 2019 levels, it’s promising to see that the figures are at their highest post-pandemic.

Many articles discussing this forecast are stating that ‘UK inbound tourism recovery isn’t fully expected until 2025’, however, I question the meaning of ‘fully recovered’, as I strongly feel that we can’t keep comparing back to 2019 as Utopia! Struth!

The truth is that following the financial crisis, we had a very good 2010-2020 – this was an amazing decade where the industry grew rapidly and lots of positives were coming out – I’d even say that UK tourism had a mini boom (this is clear to see on the graph above). But, Covid has been a real epidemic that has changed our world entirely, including the direction of travel and also socialising, therefore really impacting hospitality.

Continually comparing year on year for leaders, can be frustrating, as we are in a whole new world and industry. So, I feel it’s wrong to keep comparing back to 2019, as we are in a very different world now. I personally like to see the time, post 2020, as a re-set.

The industry has been impacted greatly; therefore, leaders need to re-set and respond to the new ways, reconfirming that we can’t keep doing what we were previously doing, it’s not working, it’s making us stressed and we need to change, we need to be savvier and smarter.

There is no denying, people’s habits have changed post pandemic… our mindsets have changed, how often we are interacting and socialising with others has changed, many of us are working from home and this means we don’t stop at a coffee shop or grab lunch on the way to the office like we used to… it’s a new generation and a new way of operating and therefore as hospitality leaders and heroes, we have to fundamentally changed our hospitality requirements and offerings.

Now is the time to re-frame, revive and then thrive…

We need to invest in training, such as the Hospitality Hero masterclass, ensuring we are prepared for the future of our new industry.

There is no doubt 2024 will be a tough year – but tough years make us. We need to focus on innovation and using our initiative and common savvy sense, to find ways to deliver food and drink and experiences, over and above the everyday expectation, because this is how people will fall back in love with hospitality again.

So, like the banking crisis changed the world vision of credit; the pandemic has changed the world view of hospitality. And, let’s not be too deflated or too worried, as history shows, we have continuous cycles of change across decades and time, so as industry leaders we need to wake up, dust off, sharpen up and keep on top of the new ways and new trends.

There’s no denying, the pandemic cast a serious and long-lasting impact on the industry, from; cost of living struggles, staffing shortages, training challenges… and many hospitality leaders continue to feel stretched, pressed and stressed in parts of the businesses, but never fear, the Hospitality Hero is here! And, we are passionate about redefining the future of this remarkable industry.