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State of the Region 2020 Full Report

Visitor Economy

Forecast for 2020

While Covid-19 has created an unprecedented crisis for the region’s business community, the tourism sector was the first to be affected and continuing to bearing the brunt. The regular survey of hotels, conference venues and attractions across the region run by WMGC’s Research Team and Shakespeare’s England indicates that:

  • To date 80% of businesses have temporarily closed
  • Many businesses are worried that, without additional support, they may not survive lockdown with 10% contemplating permanent closure in the next few weeks and another 40% believing that they may be facing failure by the end of the summer.

Based on impact modelling carried out by Global Tourism Solutions, the consultants who provide our STEAM tourism and value model, we are forecasting a fall in visitor numbers of 37% and in associated economic impact of 36% between 2018 (latest data available) and 2020. Based on the assumption that the sector continued to grow in line with recent trends in 2019, meanwhile, we estimate that while visitor numbers will fall from 137 m in 2019 to just 83 m in 2020, associated direct and multiplied expenditure will fall from 13 billion to just 8 billion.

Forecasts for 2021 and beyond

Under our strong bounce back scenario visitor volume will increase by around 32% in 2021 and around 24% 2022 and visitor value will increase by around 33% in 2021 and around 25% 2022, with both recovering to pre-Covidlevels. This scenario assumes that, boosted by a UK government budget for jobs and growth in the autumn and the establishment of air bridges with the region’s key overseas markets for tourism:

  • UK and WM business and consumer confidence bounces back
  • The region’s business conferences and events market begins to recover
  • There is a boom in staycations, domestic day trips and city breaks in the region
  • The CWG TTI Programme helps stimulate a recovery in international visitor numbers


Under the sluggish recovery scenario consumer confidence is much slower to recover and the CWG TTI programme only partially hits its outcome targets. Visitor volume and value would rise by around 19% in 2021 and 15% in 2022, with visitor numbers 14% below pre-Covidlevels and economic impact 11% below pre-Covidlevels in 2024. Under the second wave scenario tourism activity continues to flat-line until 2022 at the earliest as lockdown is re-imposed the UK and the region’s key overseas markets. Visitor numbers would be 28% below pre-Covidlevels and economic impact 26% below pre-Covidlevels in 2024.