Flight bookings to Britain rise after Brexit weakens pound

August 8, 2016 5:00 AM EDT

An aircraft lands at Heathrow Airport near London, Britain, December 11, 2015. REUTERS/Neil Hall/File Photo


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LONDON (Reuters) - Flight bookings to Britain rose in the month following the country's vote to leave the European Union as international visitors sought to take advantage of a cheaper UK-based holiday after a slump in the pound.

Inbound flight reservations rose 4.3 percent in the 28 days to July 21 compared to the same period last year, according to travel information firm ForwardKeys, reversing the trend in the month before the referendum when bookings were 2.8 percent lower.

Britain's vote to leave the EU on June 23 prompted the pound to weaken against both the dollar and the euro by around 10 percent, making it cheaper for holders of those currencies to visit the UK.

ForwardKeys put the pick-up in bookings to Britain down to the change in the exchange rate.

"Brexit had an immediate, positive impact on inbound tourism to the UK, which is converting into better than anticipated arrivals," ForwardKeys Chief Executive Olivier Jager said in a statement on Monday.

Bookings from outside Europe were up 8.6 percent in the 28 days after Brexit compared with the same period last year, having been down 0.1 percent the month before Brexit, driven by visitors from Hong Kong, the United States and Canada.

Bookings from Europeans were 1.8 percent lower than the same month last year in the post-Brexit month, an improvement on the 6.8 percent decline recorded in the pre-Brexit month.

The rise in visitor numbers could provide a boost to tourist attractions, hoteliers, restaurants and shops across Britain, some of which are already expecting to benefit from higher numbers of Brits deciding to holiday in the UK, the trend toward the so-called "staycation" during tough economic times.

(Reporting by Sarah Young, editing by Louise Heavens)



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