Is Weak Pound Good Or Bad For The British Tourist Industry?

Posted by Allison on 1 April 2009, 16:37

Here is an intriguing situation to consider. On the first day of 2008, an American dollar would have got you 0.4981 British pounds. Basically that's just under fifty pence per dollar.

Flash forward to a year later, and that same US dollar would get you 0.6844 British pounds. That's quite a difference, and it's a difference that you would think would make the UK rather more attractive to foreigners looking for a good value holiday. After all, a hundred dollars would get you nearly nineteen pounds more on 1st January 2009 than it would have done on 1st January 2008. Surely that is a good incentive for people to come across to Britain for their holidays?

Well we might be offering better value for money in that sense, but it seems as if that just isn't enough at the moment to make a real difference. As a recent story on the Telegraph website showed, there is far more to the situation than meets the eye. You can read the story here.

The situation is perhaps understandable when you consider how we are reacting to the recession we now find ourselves in. Probably one of the last thoughts that anyone in Britain has on their minds at the moment is that of taking a holiday. So why should it be any different for those abroad? After all we know that this is a global recession that is on a scale that hasn't really been seen before. People are losing their jobs and while some currencies are suffering more than others, no one is really in what you would call a 'holiday mood'.

However just as you would find in every situation there are always exceptions to the rule. One tour company recently proclaimed that they were doing a grand business in trading despite the economy – but they also had a deal on that they managed to slip into the end of the story. It did read more like a press release that was trying to drum up extra business, rather than an actual news story as you can read from the link above.

Of course, the poor pound should really benefit the UK tourist industry. It does make holidays in this country more attractive for people in other countries whose currencies are stronger. Many people will tot up the figures on their currency calculator and find that the UK offers one of the best value for money destinations at the moment.

But if people have more to worry about than where they are going on holiday, it's clear that our country won't be so easily boosted by an influx of travellers from all kinds of countries. In fact, it looks very much as if the tourist industry is going to suffer as much as many other industries are.

The real question is what the long term future will hold. It doesn't look as if we can expect this recession to be over and done with in the near future. That means the tourist industry is unlikely to really benefit even if the pound were to dip even lower.

The best way out may be to wait for things to improve and then get the tourist industry back on its feet again – once we are all back in the mood for a holiday.