Apparently Not: The latest monthly figures from the UK Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that travel by Britons to North America (usually 90 percent or more of this total is to the U.S.) increased by 23 percent in February 2017 vs. the same month in 2016. This spike followed a nearly 17 percent year-on-year decline for the month of January 2016 vs. January 2017.
When the January figures came out last month, there was much speculation in the UK travel trade that the drop-off in February travel could have been due to UK travelers canceling their plans to visit the United States because of a negative reaction to the new U.S. President, Donald Trump. It’s difficult to make a correlation that is statistically justifiable, so we’ve prepared the following table that puts the January 2017 decline and the February 2017 increase in a larger context.
Other notes on the latest ONS release:
—For the last three months measured (December, January and February) travel to the USA by Britons was up by 4 percent.
—For the year-to-date total of 2017 (January and February) vs. the year-to-date total for the same two months in 2016, travel to the USA by Britons is up by 1 percent.
—For the last 12 months for which data are available (March 2016 through February 2017), travel to the USA by Britons is up by 3 percent over the comparable period a year before.
The strong U.S. dollar seems to have had little impact. The increase in travel seen in the above table comes despite the fact that that the British pound fell from $1.44 vs. the dollar on April 23, 2016 to $1.22 six months later on October 23, 2016, and rested at $1.28 earlier this week on April 23, 2017.
Low Fares May Offset other Factors: Perhaps contributing to the resilient outbound travel numbers on the part of Brits is the fact that airfares from the UK have dropped by an average of 10 percent over the past 12 months with long-haul ticket prices down by an average of 7 percent, according to fare comparison site Skyscanner.
The site said the biggest price drop was on flights to Vancouver, with fares down 18 percent year on year; fares to Boston were down by 13 percent; and fares to Las Vegas were about 9 percent less. (There were no other major North American cities listed in the Skyscanner release announcing the results of its study.)