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Update TOURISM NEWS


TOURISM NEWS Weak pound pulls in visitors


UK LAS VEGAS


The weakness of the pound following last year’s Brexit vote is driving international tourism to the UK, with visitor numbers up 10% in the first quarter of 2017. Official figures from VisitBritain


show strong growth from China, Australia and the US – with a record 54,000 Chinese visitors in January to March, up 27% year-on-year. Tourists from China spent heavily too, contributing £91 million to the UK economy.


The statistics also show that arrivals


from the US, the UK’s most valuable market, grew by 16% to 641,000, with visitors spending a record £604 million, up 29%. Visits from Australia also set a


record for the first quarter, with a 10% increase year-on-year to 174,000, while spending grew to £180 million. The near future is also looking


strong, with data from ForwardKeys revealing that flight bookings from China to the UK were tracking 35% ahead for July to September compared with the same period last year, and 21% ahead from the US to the UK. Meanwhile, research from UKInbound showing how different nationalities spend their cash in the UK has been released for the first


QATAR


Entry made easier with free visa waiver Hassan Al Ibrahim, the chief


Qatar has opened its doors to citizens of 80 countries in response to its diplomatic isolation by Gulf neighbours. The state is offering a free multi-


entry visa waiver to visitors from a host of nations after countries including Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt cut ties and accused it of sponsoring international terrorism. The waiver will be issued at the port


of entry upon presentation of a valid passport with a minimum validity of six months and a confirmed onward or return ticket.


tourism development officer at tourism body QTA, said: “Easing the entry into Qatar is a key enabler for the growth of Qatar’s tourism industry. “With this announcement we


are already turning the pages of the next chapter of Qatar’s journey towards 2030.” The latest changes follow


Qatar’s launch in July of an e-visa platform while further changes are understood to also be under discussion.


routesonline.com ROUTES NEWS 2017 ISSUE 5 17


time. It revealed tourists from Gulf countries had the highest individual- visitor spend overall, while those from China, Hong Kong and Thailand spend heavily on UK products, with half of their expenditure going in shops. VisitBritain’s CEO Sally Balcombe


said: “Understanding more about what our visitors want, and getting a fast read-out of where they spend their money, will ensure we get the right products to them at the right time.” The figures also revealed visitors


from the Nordics, Benelux countries, US, Italy and Spain spend a larger proportion eating out, while those from Denmark, South Korea and Israel made the most of the UK’s live entertainment.


UK visitor numbers are up 10% year-on-year in the first quarter of 2017


On the ball with new soccer side


Las Vegas is poised to add sport to its list of attractions for overseas visitors with the launch of its own professional soccer team from 2018.


The new club will compete in


the United Soccer League (USL) – effectively the second tier of US football, below the Major Soccer League (MLS).


The club, still without a name, will play its 16 home games at Cashman Field, a 9,334-capacity stadium in the Downtown area, which is owned and operated by the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. Cashman Field is also home to minor league baseball side the Las Vegas 51s. Brett Lashbrook, founder and owner of Las Vegas Pro Soccer LLC, which will own the team, said: “We know Las Vegas is ready for professional soccer, and we plan to deliver on our promise to make this a soccer city.” Meanwhile, Las Vegas is intent on building its TV and movie business with the opening of the new Caesars Entertainment Studios.


The facilities boast 48,000 ft sq of studio space, with a sound stage suitable for TV and film production. The city believes its proximity to Hollywood will attract companies making movies, sit-coms and other TV shows.


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