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Rain, terror ruin summer tourism in UK

17 September 2007

The number of tourists visiting the United Kingdom in the summer of 2007 fell because of dismal weather and major security incidents in London and in Glasgow.

According to the figures released by Britain’s Office for National Statistics (ONS), the number of visits dropped from 3.53 million in July 2006 to 3.24 million for the same month in 2007.

The amount spent by foreign tourists during their trips to the United Kingdom also fell from £1.92 billion in July 2006 to £1.79 billion in July 2007.

Record rainfall, which left seven people dead in England, hit tourism, but security concerns also contributed after the failed attacks in London and Glasgow at the start of June 2007, according to Elliott Frisby of national tourism agency VisitBritain.

In June 2007, the security alert strongly rose after the attack on Glasgow airport. “I think it has more to do with that than with the weather for foreign visitors,” Elliott Frisby told news agency AFP.

Before the terrorist attacks in London and Glasgow, tourism had been on the rise – the number of foreign tourists visiting from January to July 2007 had risen by 1% to 18.56 million.

Amid monsoon-like conditions at home, many Britons headed abroad for their holidays. Spending by Britons on foreign trips rose by 4% to touch 19.56 billion pounds during the first seven months of 2007.

However, Edinburgh, capital of Scotland, was an exception to the general trend in the United Kingdom.

In 2007, Edinburgh witnessed a growth in hotel occupancy rates, a record-breaking festival period, and a rise in the number of airline passengers.

According to Ben Carter, VisitScotland’s area director for Edinburgh and Lothians, “while the poor weather may have affected some businesses this
summer, we are not seeing a drop in figures across the board. The Edinburgh Airport reported an increase in international traffic in August 2007, with many new routes from across Europe proving popular.”

The Edinburgh Festival of 2007 was also a huge success, with the fringe alone selling a record 1.7 million tickets – a rise of 10.8% over 2006.

Edinburgh’s figures for overseas visitor numbers are yet to be released, but one encouraging sign is that hotel accommodation occupancy in the city in
July 2007 reached 89.2% – an increase of 1.3% over the 2006 figures.

In the first week of September 2007, Edinburgh was named, at a travel awards show, as the second best city to visit in the United Kingdom.

The awards given by Condé Nast Traveller, the leading authority on travel in the United Kingdom, saw Edinburgh overtaking the fourth-placed Glasgow for the first time in two years.

Edinburgh, which has made it to the Top Ten every year since the awards began in 1998, was only beaten by Durham, with readers complementing Edinburgh’s “architecture and culture.”




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