Monday, September 17, 2007

Weather puts a dampener on tourism in Britain

Daily Mail (UK): Tourists stayed away from Britain in droves because of our stormy summer, figures revealed yesterday. With scenes of flooded towns and torrential rain broadcast around the world, the number of visitors fell by 8 per cent in July compared to the same time last year. In turn, the amount of money spent in July slumped from £1.92 billion last year to £1.79 billion.

The findings are a blow to the tourist industry but there are fears the record rainfall and floods have yet to do their worst. Experts think the extreme weather may deter visitors from booking holidays in Britain next year.

According to the Met Office, July was the wettest in England since official national records began in 1914. More than 141mm of rain fell in the month. Floods left thousands homeless in Yorkshire, the Midlands, Thames Valley, Wales and the West of England. Although wet weather rarely deters foreigners, the scale of the storms is thought to have had an unprecedented effect.

According to the Office for National Statistics, foreign visitors fell from 3.53 million in July 2006 to 3.24 million this year. "We've had a quite disappointing summer for most people across the country," said a Met Office spokesman. "We had some exceptional rainfall in June and July." The numbers of Britons holidaying overseas fell slightly between July 2006 and July this year from 6.72 million to 6.56 million. Tourism chiefs say the impact of a poor summer is often delayed.

Many foreigners planning to spend next year here may change their mind after seeing our soggy summer and will be opting for a destination with guaranteed sunshine. Much of Britain has enjoyed an Indian summer over the last week. However, the sunshine is unlikely to last beyond the weekend. "After Sunday we are likely to see much wetter, cooler weather for much of Britain," the Met Office said.

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