Results of survey on impact of volcanic ash cloud on UK tourism businesses
1 June 2010

381 businesses completed VisitBritain's survey on the impact of the volcanic ash cloud on UK tourism businesses.

Businesses from England, Scotland and Wales contributed to the survey although the sample is not representative of all tourism businesses in the UK.

Detailed results:

  • Given the less extensive disruption to air travel, it is not surprising to see the number of businesses reporting a negative impact has fallen from 66% (in wave 1) to 49% (in wave 2), and fewer businesses are reporting a very negative impact (down from 20% to 8%).
  • Businesses operating in all regions of the UK have experienced a less negative impact in wave 2 than wave 1, but the scale of the reduction has been less pronounced in Scotland (falling from 75% to 67%) where disruption to air travel has been more frequent than in other regions.
  • 80% of tour operators felt some sort of negative impact in wave 2 (similar to wave 1) despite less extensive disruption to flights.  However, fewer experienced a ‘very negative’ impact (down from 28% to 11%).
  • Business is back to normal (or better) for two thirds of businesses, but at a lower level than expected for one third.  It is not completely clear whether this is driven by ash or economic concerns – probably a mixture.
  • Initially, when the whole of UK airspace was closed in April, 44% of businesses anticipated a negative long-term impact (with 6% anticipating a very negative long-term impact). This has grown to 49% (with 10% anticipating a very negative impact), driven by the concerns of tour operators and businesses operating in Scotland. There are concerns that potential visitors are losing confidence in booking trips to Britain.
  • However, other businesses feel the ash presents an opportunity, with 19% now anticipating a positive long-term impact (compared to 11% in wave 1). This has been driven by an anticipation of more staycations as UK residents may lose confidence in outbound travel.


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