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Introduction

This is the first release of the main estimates for the volume and value of domestic overnight tourism trips taken by British residents in Wales and Great Britain for the period April to June 2023. This report also includes estimates covering the period January to June 2023. 

This report includes estimates for the main purpose of overnight trips; holidays, visits to friends and relatives (VFR) and business trips, with the definitions for each of these provided in the relevant section of this report.

The report includes estimates and details of overnight trips taken in Wales, and in Great Britain for comparative purposes. Detailed results for England and Scotland are being published by VisitEngland and VisitScotland.

These statistics are used to monitor domestic tourism demand and measure the contribution and impact of domestic tourism on the visitor economy. A key purpose of these statistics is to uncover insights into market trends over time.  Changes in survey methodology introduced in 2021, together with the interruption in data collection due to COVID-19, mean that results published in this release are not directly comparable with data published for 2019 and previous years. Estimates of domestic overnight trips to Wales for 2021, 2022 and January to March 2023 have been published and are comparable with the results in this release. Please refer to the section on comparability and coherence. Changes in expenditure should be considered in light of increased costs, as these estimates have not been adjusted for inflation.

The statistics are labelled as ‘experimental’ to enable testing and further modification to meet user needs. Further information on this is available on the Office for National Statistics website. We are keen to check that the new tourism statistics meet user needs and invite you to provide feedback on the information in this output at tourismresearch@gov.wales.

Main points

Wales trips

  • Between April and June 2023, Great Britain (GB) residents took 2.05 million overnight trips in Wales with 5.50 million nights and £488 million spent during these trips.
  • From January to June 2023, GB residents took 3.79 million overnight trips in Wales with 10.54 million nights and £829 million spent during these trips.
  • 36% of overnight trips taken in Wales during the first six months of 2023 were holidays. 32% were visits to friends and relatives, 5% were for business purposes and 27% were for miscellaneous purposes.
  • Approximately 7% of all GB trips included an overnight stay in Wales, whilst the share of total GB nights was also 7% and the share of spend lower at 6%.
  • The average duration of Wales trips from January to June 2023 was 2.8 nights with an average spend of £219 per trip.
  • Compared to the same period in 2022, the volume of trips taken in Wales from January to June 2023 was 1% higher, whilst expenditure was 25% higher. 

Great Britain trips

  • Between April and June 2023, GB residents took 29.32 million overnight trips in GB with 83.07 million nights and £7.97 billion spent during these trips.
  • From January to June 2023, GB residents took 53.11 million overnight trips in GB with 151.41 million nights and £14.29 billion spent during these trips.
  • 29% of overnight trips taken in GB during this period were holidays, 38% were visits to friends and relatives (VFR), 6% were for business purposes and 27% were for miscellaneous purposes.
  • 85% of trips taken in GB included an overnight stay in England, 10% included an overnight stay in Scotland and 7% included an overnight stay in Wales.
  • The average duration of GB trips from January to June 2023 was 2.9 nights with an average spend of £269 per trip.
  • Compared to the same period in 2022, the volume of trips taken in GB from January to June 2023 remained stable, whilst expenditure was 8% higher. 

Trips, nights and spend to GB nations, April to June 2023

Table 1: Total volume of trips, nights and spend to the nations of Great Britain, January to June 2023 [Note 1]
  England Scotland Wales
Trips (millions) 45.32 5.57 3.79
% Great Britain trips 85% 10% 7%
Nights (millions) 126.19 14.68 10.54
% Great Britain nights 83% 10% 7%
Spend (£ millions) £12,079 £1,377 £829
% Great Britain spend 85% 10% 6%

Source: Great Britain Tourism Survey (GBTS), January to June 2023

[Note 1] Percentages do not sum to 100% as some trips included visits to more than one nation.

In the period from the start of January to the end of June 2023, there were 53.11 million overnight trips taken in GB by British residents with a total of 151.41 million nights and a total expenditure of £14.29 billion. During the same period there were 3.79 million overnight trips taken in Wales with a total of 10.54 million nights and a total expenditure of £829 million. 

Approximately 7% of all domestic overnight trips by British residents were taken in Wales, compared to 85% taken in England and 10% taken in Scotland, similar to the share of trips reported for the same period in 2022. The share of total GB nights taken in Wales was 7% and the share of spend was 6%. These figures are slightly higher than the shares reported for the same period in 2022 (6% of total GB nights and 5% of total GB expenditure).

Table 2: Trips, nights and spend to Wales by purpose of visit, January to June 2023 [Note 1]
All Purposes Trips (millions) Nights (millions) Spend (£ millions)
January to March 2023 1.74 5.05 £341
April to June 2023 2.05 5.50 £488
Year to date 2023 3.79 10.54 £829
Year to date 2022/2023 percentage change 1% 4% 25%
Holiday  Trips (millions) Nights (millions) Spend (£ millions)
January to March 2023 0.50 1.22 £115
April to June 2023 0.85 2.69 £246
Year to date 2023 1.35 3.91 £361
Year to date 2022/2023 percentage change -16% -22% 7%
VFR Trips (millions) Nights (millions) Spend (£ millions)
January to March 2023 0.54 2.06 £75
April to June 2023 0.67 1.61 £91
Year to date 2023 1.21 3.67 £166
Year to date 2022/2023 percentage change -1% 6% 1%
Business Trips (millions) Nights (millions) Spend (£ millions)
January to March 2023 0.15 0.63 £21
April to June 2023 0.06 0.16 £16
Year to date 2023 0.21 0.80 £37
Year to date 2022/2023 percentage change -10% 136% 52%
Miscellaneous/other Trips (millions) Nights (millions) Spend (£ millions)
January to March 2023 0.55 1.14 £129
April to June 2023 0.47 1.03 £135
Year to date 2023 1.02 2.17 £264
Year to date 2022/2023 percentage change 50% 69% 90%

Source: Great Britain Tourism Survey (GBTS), January to June 2023

[Note 1] Low base sizes for business trips to Wales – data should be treated with caution.

Figure 1: Proportion of trips, nights and spend in Wales by main purpose of trip, January to June 2023 [Note 1]

Image

Description of Figure 1: A stacked bar chart showing that, from January to June 2023, holidays were the most common type of trip taken to Wales by GB residents, followed by visits to friends and relatives.

Source: Great Britain Tourism Survey (GBTS), January to June 2023

[Note 1] Percentages for Wales nights do not sum to 100% due to a rounding issue.

During the first six months of 2023, holiday trips were the most common type of trip taken in Wales (36%), followed by visits to friends and relatives (32%).  Trips for miscellaneous and business purposes accounted for 27% and 5% of trips taken, respectively. The volume of trips taken for all purposes in Wales between January and June 2023 is 1% higher than during the same period in 2022. The volumes of holiday trips, visits to friends and relatives, and business trips taken to Wales from January to June 2023 are lower than volumes for these types of trips during the same period in 2022. However, the volume of trips taken for miscellaneous purposes during January to June 2023 is 50% higher than during the same period in 2022. Trips for ‘miscellaneous’ purposes include a wide range of trips (see section on definitions), but the largest volume of miscellaneous trips taken in Wales between January and June 2023 were overseas trips that included an overnight stay in Wales (10% of all trips), trips for a personal event (8%) and trips for a public event (5%). 

Table 3: Trips, nights and spend to Great Britain by purpose of visit, January to June 2023
All Purposes Trips (millions) Nights (millions)

Spend
(£ millions)

January to March 2023 23.78 68.34 £6,316
April to June 2023 29.32 83.07 £7,969
Year to date 2023 53.11 151.41 £14,286
Year to date 2022/2023 percentage change 0% -6% 8%
Holiday  Trips (millions) Nights (millions) Spend (£ millions)
January to March 2023 5.73 17.72 £1,812
April to June 2023 9.87 35.43 £3,246
Year to date 2023 15.60 53.15 £5,058
Year to date 2022/2023 percentage change -13% -17% -11%
VFR  Trips (millions) Nights (millions) Spend (£ millions)
January to March 2023 9.96 30.10 £1,872
April to June 2023 10.29 25.71 £1,842
Year to date 2023 20.25 55.82 £3,714
Year to date 2022/2023 percentage change 5% 2% 19%
Business Trips (millions) Nights (millions) Spend (£ millions)
January to March 2023 1.62 5.13 £686
April to June 2023 1.34 3.68 £438
Year to date 2023 2.97 8.82 £1,124
Year to date 2022/2023 percentage change -9% -11% 34%
Miscellaneous/other Trips (millions) Nights (millions) Spend (£ millions)
January to March 2023 6.47 15.38 £1,947
April to June 2023 7.82 18.24 £2,443
Year to date 2023 14.29 33.62 £4,389
Year to date 2022/2023 percentage change 11% 6% 20%

Source: Great Britain Tourism Survey (GBTS), January to June 2023

Compared to the same period in 2022, the volume of trips taken for all purposes between January and June 2023 has remained largely static, both for trips taken in Wales and in GB as a whole. However, expenditure on trips taken for all purposes during the first six months of 2023 has increased compared to expenditure during the same period in 2022, both for trips taken in Wales and trips taken in GB. Similar to Wales, the volumes of holiday trips and business trips taken in GB have decreased during the period January to June 2023, compared to the same period in 2022. However, the volume of trips taken in GB to visit friends and relatives has increased, whereas the volume of trips taken in Wales for this purpose has decreased. There has been an increase in the volume of trips taken for miscellaneous purposes, for both trips taken in Wales and trips taken in GB.

Characteristics of GB and Wales trips

Table 4: Average spend and length of stay for main purpose of trip taken in Great Britain and Wales, January to June 2023 [Note 1]
All Purposes Great Britain Wales 
Spend per trip £ £269 £219
Spend per night £ £94 £79
Nights per trip 2.9 2.8
Holidays Great Britain Wales
Spend per trip £ £324 £269
Spend per night £ £95 £92
Nights per trip 3.4 2.9
VFR Great Britain Wales
Spend per trip £ £183 £137
Spend per night £ £67 £45
Nights per trip 2.8 3.0
Business Great Britain Wales
Spend per trip £ £379 £180
Spend per night £ £128 £47
Nights per trip 3.0 3.9

Source: Great Britain Tourism Survey (GBTS), January to June 2023

[Note 1] Low base size for business trips to Wales – data should be treated with caution.

The average duration of trips taken in Wales from January to June 2023 was 2.8 nights, slightly below the average for GB of 2.9 nights. The spend per trip and spend per night on trips taken in Wales are lower than for GB as a whole, consistent with the findings for 2022. Between January and June 2023, the average spend per night is highest for holiday trips taken in Wales, whereas it is highest for business trips for GB as a whole. 

The average spend per trip for Wales in the first six months of 2023 is well above the level for the same period in 2022, continuing the overall trend of increasing spend on trips taken. This is consistent for trips taken in Wales and trips taken in GB as a whole, and across all types of trips. Changes in expenditure should be considered in light of increased costs, as these estimates have not been adjusted for inflation. The average length of trips taken for all purposes in Wales during the period January to June 2023 has increased, compared to the same period in 2022. However, the average length of trips taken for all purposes in GB has decreased. The average length of holiday trips taken during the first six months of 2023 has decreased compared to the same period in 2022, for both trips taken in Wales and in GB, by 7% and 5% respectively.

Trip trends for Wales and GB

Figure 2: Volume of trips to Wales in millions by quarter of visit, January 2022 to June 2023

Image

Description of Figure 2: A clustered column chart showing the volume of trips taken in Wales for each quarter, with trip levels during the first six months of 2023 increasing slightly compared to trip levels for the same period in 2022.

Source: Great Britain Tourism Survey (GBTS), January 2022 to June 2023.

There was a decrease of 1% in the volume of trips to Wales from April to June 2023, with 2.05 million trips taken in Wales, compared to 2.08 million during the same period in 2022. However, the volume of trips taken in Wales from January to June 2023 was 1% higher than during the same period in 2022, with 3.79 million trips taken in Wales.

Figure 3: Total expenditure on trips taken in Wales in millions of pounds by quarter of visit, January 2022 to June 2023

Image

Description of Figure 3: A clustered column chart showing the expenditure on trips taken in Wales for each quarter, with spend higher for the first two quarters of 2023, compared to the same period in 2022.

Source: Great Britain Tourism Survey (GBTS), January 2022 to June 2023

There was an increase of 18% in spend on overnight trips taken in Wales between April to June 2023, with £488 million spent, compared to £413 million during the same period in 2022. From January to June 2023, expenditure on trips taken in Wales was 25% higher than during the same period in 2022, with £829 million spent during these trips. Changes in expenditure should be considered in light of increased costs, as these estimates have not been adjusted for inflation.

Figure 4: Volume of overnight trips taken in Great Britain in millions by quarter of visit, January 2022 to June 2023

Image

Description of Figure 4: A clustered column chart showing the volume of trips taken in GB for each quarter, with trips higher for the period April to June in 2023 compared to the same period in 2022.

Source: Great Britain Tourism Survey (GBTS), January 2022 to June 2023

There was an increase of 6% in the volume of trips taken in GB from April to June 2023, with 29.32 million trips taken in GB compared to 27.67 million during the same period in 2022. However, the volume of trips taken in GB during the period January to June 2023 has remained stable, compared to the same period in 2022, with 53.11 million overnight trips taken during the first six months of 2023.

Figure 5: Total expenditure on trips taken in Great Britain in millions of pounds by quarter of visit, January 2022 to June 2023

Image

Description of Figure 5: A clustered column chart showing the expenditure on trips taken in GB for each quarter, with spend higher for the first six months of 2023, compared to the same period in 2022.

Source: Great Britain Tourism Survey (GBTS), January 2022 to June 2023

There was an increase of 11% in spend on overnight trips taken in GB between April to June 2023, with £7.97 billion spent, compared to £7.18 billion during the same period in 2022. Expenditure for trips taken in GB between January and June 2023 was 8% higher compared to the same period in 2022, with £14.29 billion spent during these trips. Changes in expenditure should be considered in light of increased costs, as these estimates have not been adjusted for inflation.

Profile of trips taken in Wales and GB

Figure 6: Volume and proportion of trips taken in Great Britain and Wales by main location visited, January to June 2023 [Note 1]

Image

Description of Figure 6: A stacked column chart showing that while trips to Wales were evenly distributed across different types of locations, trips to large cities/large towns made up the largest proportion of trips taken in GB during the first six months of 2023.

Source: Great Britain Tourism Survey (GBTS), January to June 2023

[Note 1] The numbers within the coloured segments are the number of trips taken to each main location in millions. For instance, from January to June 2023, there were 1.00 million trips to a countryside/village location taken in Wales.

Just over half of trips (53%) taken in Wales from January to June 2023 were to a city, large town or small town. In comparison, trips to these urban destinations made up 68% of trips taken across GB as a whole. Trips to the countryside or a village made up 26% of trips taken in Wales, whilst 19% were taken to the seaside. Compared to the same period in 2022, the proportion of trips taken from January to June 2023 in Wales to urban destinations has remained stable. The proportion of trips to the countryside or a village has increased slightly, from 24% during the first six months of 2022. The proportion of trips taken to the seaside in Wales has decreased slightly, from 21% during the period January to June 2022.

Quality and methodology information

Definitions

To qualify as an eligible GB Domestic Overnight Trip the following criteria must be met:

  • The trip involved a stay of at least one night in one or more of the GB nations; England, Scotland or Wales.
  • The trip is not taken on a frequent basis (less often than once a week).
  • For GB Domestic Overnight Holiday Trips; the main purpose of the trip was for holiday, pleasure or leisure.
  • For GB Domestic Overnight VFR Trips (VFR); the main purpose of the trip was for visiting friends and relatives, including VFR trips that were combined with a holiday.
  • For GB Domestic Overnight Business Trips; the main purpose of the trip was for business.
  • For GB Domestic Overnight Miscellaneous/Other Trips; the main purpose of the trip was for another type of trip taken not covered by the above classifications including personal events, public events, or for study, medical, religious purposes, or any overnight stay in GB as part of an overseas trip.

Other definitions used in this publication

Volume

An estimate of what the grossed-up number of overnight trips undertaken by the population would be if the survey sample is representative of the whole GB population. The reported volume of trips is an estimate of trips by individuals, so that a travel party of two people would count as two individual trips.

Value

An estimate of what the total expenditure relating to the volume of overnight visits undertaken by the population would be if the survey sample is representative of the whole GB population.

Bednights

An estimate of what the grossed-up number of nights spent on overnight trips undertaken by the population would be if the survey sample is representative of the whole GB population.

These definitions and the associated qualifying criteria have been revised as part of the new combined GBTS/GBDVS survey to align with agreed international standards. These changes impact the comparability of the published domestic overnight tourism estimates for 2021, 2022 and 2023 with 2019 and previous years.

Methodology

In 2019, Visit Wales, VisitScotland and VisitEngland, undertook a review of the requirements and methods for producing the official GB domestic tourist statistics, to future-proof the data collection methods, whilst maintaining the reliability and robustness of the information reported. As a result, substantial changes were introduced as part of a new combined online survey collecting data on both domestic overnight trips as well as domestic day trips. This represents a fundamental change in the way data is collected for overnight visits including moving from the previous in-home face to face survey method to a new combined online survey covering both domestic overnight trips and day trips.

The sample for the new combined online survey is a non-probability-based design sourced from 4 ESOMAR accredited online panel providers and includes quotas for key demographic variables to make the overall sample as representative as possible of GB population. The target annual sample size for the survey of overnight visitors is 60,000 completed interviews. Not every person who is interviewed will have taken an eligible overnight trip and so the base sizes used for trip estimation are lower than the number of interviews.

As part of the survey changes, a revised weighting scheme has been introduced to improve efficiency, whilst making the results as representative as possible of the GB population. However, the use of a non-probability online sample limits the extent to which the survey responses are truly representative of the full GB population, a limitation of similar online sample surveys. The new weighting scheme uses the National Statistics Socio-economic Classification (NS-SEC) mapped to approximate social grade for population statistics, for the purpose of quotas and weighting to the GB population. The change to using NS-SEC as the population statistics source will impact the estimation and reporting of trips compared to the previous reporting of social grade used for GBTS in 2019 and previous years. We are planning to introduce a new question in the survey during 2023 that captures household income that will be used to analyse and report on trips taken by different household income bands from 2023 onwards.

Further details of the changes to survey method, sample design, estimation approaches and the effects of applied caps and recalibration are available in the GBTS Background Quality Report 2022.

Comparability and coherence

Statistics for domestic overnight tourism have been collected in a broadly similar way since 1989. However, the changes in survey methodology introduced in 2021, together with the interruption in data collection due to COVID-19, means that results published from April 2021 onwards are not directly comparable with data published for 2019 and previous years. Results for 2021, 2022 and January to March 2023 are available, and are comparable with the results in this report.

As part of the survey, respondents are asked about any overnight trips they have taken in the 4 full weeks prior to their date of interview (reference period). Trip and expenditure estimates are reported for individual calendar months as well as for quarterly and annual periods. As the interview reference periods do not exactly correspond with calendar months an adjustment is made using a ‘seasonal smoothing factor’ to improve monthly comparisons within and between years. The monthly estimates are subject to limitations on sample size and seasonal fluctuations in trip taking across the year.

Accuracy

The statistics produced from the Great Britain Tourism Survey in 2019 and previous years have been designated as official statistics, which provides reassurance to users that the  statistics are produced to the very highest professional standards of trustworthiness, quality and value, set out in the Code of Practice for Statistics (Office for National Statistics). Due to the changes in methodology and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the survey results for 2021 have been labelled as ‘experimental statistics’ (Office for National Statistics). The new survey and statistics have undergone a comprehensive programme of quality assurance including piloting of the survey, analysis of changes to the trip definitions, testing the impact of the new weighting scheme and a review of caps and imputation rules. Changes to the survey methodology and estimation have taken account of a review and advice provided by the Methodology Advisory Service of the Office for National Statistics.

As the statistics are produced using a non-probability online survey method, they are subject to the limitations and potential sources of bias and error associated with such surveys. These include:

  • coverage error: due to part of the GB population not having online access
  • sampling error: using a sample to measure the behaviour of the full GB population
  • sample bias: including differences between people with online access and who are online panel members compared to those who are not
  • measurement error: due to respondents entering incorrect values
  • non-response error: including survey refusals and drop-outs and the availability of ‘don’t know’ and ‘prefer not to say’ options

The GBTS data are weighted to correct for any imperfections in the achieved sample that might lead to bias and to rectify any differences between the sample and the target GB population. The survey uses a mix of accredited online panels to mitigate for possible panel specific biases, and the mix of panels is kept consistent over time. Demographic quotas are used to align the sample with the GB population. The survey script and data processing include bespoke checks to verify the accuracy of responses. Imputation is used to cover missing data and caps are used to minimise the impact of extreme values that are entered. It is not possible to measure standard sample errors due to the non-probability sample being used, but base sizes are reported for eligible trip takers and users are advised to consider and be cautious of small base sizes, particularly for monthly data and lower-level geographies, when drawing inferences from the statistics.

Relevance

These statistics are used both within and outside the Welsh Government to monitor domestic tourism demand and measure the contribution and impact of domestic tourism on the visitor economy. A key purpose of these statistics is to uncover insights into market trends over time.

As far as possible, the new combined GBTS and GBDVS survey provides consistency with previous information collected, but new questions capture enhanced information on activities undertaken, booking methods and responder profiles including protected characteristics. It is envisaged that this additional information will be of value for the various users of the survey. The current questionnaire is included in the GBTS Background Quality Report 2022.

The survey sponsors are planning to engage with the priority users of the statistics to check the new survey information meets their needs and we encourage users of the statistics to provide feedback on the data and this output at tourismresearch@gov.wales.

Timeliness and punctuality

All outputs adhere to the Code of Practice by pre-announcing the date of publication through the upcoming calendar. Furthermore, should the need arise to postpone an output this would follow the statement on revisions, errors and postponements. We aim to publish data as soon as possible after the relevant research time period. It is anticipated that future results for Wales will be published on a quarterly basis, to ensure estimates are supported by robust trip base sizes. Specific publication timings will be notified on the WG website, but the aim is to publish quarterly statistics for Wales approximately 9 to 10 weeks after the end of each quarter based on the 4 week survey trip taking reference period and to allow for quality assurance and reporting timescales.

Further information

Contact details

Statistician: Siân Hughes
Email: tourismresearch@gov.wales

Media: 0300 025 8099

SFR 92/2023