Large businesses invest £1 in every five to attract ‘active leisure’ tourism
Large businesses in the UK are feeling buoyant about the economy, with more than three-quarters (76 %) optimistic about their own prospects, and 59 % feeling positive about the wider UK economy. In contrast, less than a fifth (19 %) felt pessimistic. This is according to data from the first Barclays Business Barometer focused on large businesses, which measures the UK corporate business environment in the hospitality and leisure, retail and manufacturing industries.
This optimism is driven, in part, by the rise in ‘active leisure’ tourism: tourism which is driven primarily by physical activities, such as cycling, running or walking holidays. 65 % of business leaders surveyed said these types of trips have surged in popularity in recent years, with more than seven in ten (71 %) hospitality businesses seeing an increase in ‘foot’-traffic due to active leisure.
As a result, business revenues this quarter are expected to increase 21 % year-on-year – an increase of around £14.9m in revenues per business surveyed on average – with more than two-thirds (67 %) of UK corporates planning high levels of investment over the next 12 months.
In fact, the average large business has already invested more than £1 in every five over the last year in targeting active leisure customers, through initiatives like offering dedicated accommodations (such as shower facilities or bike racks), interior design upgrades or new product ranges.
Active leisure tourism surge
The rise in active leisure tourism has brought significant benefits to the UK hospitality and leisure sector, which struggled during the Covid-19 pandemic. Nearly three-quarters (74%) of those in the hospitality and leisure sector said that targeting active leisure tourists enabled them to increase their revenues, whilst 64 % of business leaders credit its increasing popularity with helping high streets to recover.
Nearly seven in ten (69 %) businesses also believe active leisure is encouraging more Brits to visit historic buildings and sites, with tourists adventuring all across the country in search of iconic buildings and locations – particularly from their favourite films, TV series and video games. In fact, 76% of hospitality and leisure businesses with increased revenues report that the growth in active leisure allows them to target customers who are further away from where their physical premises are located. A third (33 %) of businesses also agreed that active leisure tourism enabled their locations outside London and the South East to benefit from increased footfall.
Active leisure tourists are also seen as bigger spenders while on holiday, with businesses agreeing that they were more likely to pay more on retail (37 %), drinks (35 %), accommodation (32 %) and dining (31 %), when compared to the average consumer.
David Farrow, head of UK Corporate Banking at Barclays, said: “The surge in popularity of active leisure holidays in the UK has been a boon for large businesses, particularly in the hospitality and leisure sector. As many more of us visit historic sites and go on more walking trips and cycling tours, businesses in every corner of the country have the opportunity to feel the benefits of these dynamic and growing categories of leisure.
“This is reflected in the positive outlook displayed by the UK’s larger businesses, who expect growth both for themselves and for the wider UK economy.”