“The industry is currently facing the perfect storm in terms of the operating costs with rising business rates and the UK being on average twice the tourism VAT rate than that across Europe. With now a General Election on the horizon, it is imperative that all the political parties understand the important part that the fourth largest industry plays, and whichever the incoming government is, it considers the needs of the industry in its political agenda.” Domestic tourism set for further growth The British Tourism & Travel Show’s industry survey reports a continued rise in domestic tourism. The survey found that 67% of respondents saw an increase in domestic visitor numbers and bookings in 2016, and 57% who completed the survey think that customer spending habits will improve over the next year. 78% are feeling either very or fairly optimistic about the future of the domestic travel trade. hospitalitytoday.com | 27 A general consensus is that Brexit will continue to have an influence on future consumer spending (with mixed opinions on the actual impact of the Brexit vote on business’ prospects). When asked specifically about the Brexit vote: 39% said last year’s referendum result had no discernible impact on their business, while 28% reported a positive impact. The remaining 33%, many of whom also cater to the outbound tourism market, said it was already having a negative effect. Notably, many respondents commented that it may be ‘too early to tell.’ An increase in staycations, more last minute bookings, a rise in inbound tourism (from China, the US and Canada, for example), a greater focus on experiential holidays and breaks, a rise in digitisation, more away days, and exploring lesser known locations outside of London, have been identified as some of the key trends to watch, among others.