UK set for £3.5 billion boost from hospitality and leisure industry 'brimming with confidence'

The hospitality and leisure industry is likely to contribute an additional £3.5 billion to the UK economy this year following a sharp post-lockdown rebound, research today suggests.

The vast majority of hospitality and leisure businesses (94 per cent) are confident about their growth prospects for this year, according to a new study by Barclays Corporate Banking.

Based on projected sales figures for the period from April to December 2021, when the hospitality sector has largely been open again, this equates to £3.5bn more in gross value added (GVA) than in the equivalent period in 2019, the research notes.

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It also reveals new patterns in the way people are accessing hospitality and leisure services and changing consumer habits.

The Scottish Highlands is among the most popular destinations cited in the Barclays report.

While restrictions on foreign travel have eased substantially in recent weeks, staycation tourism could be here to stay with nearly half (45 per cent) of consumers prioritising UK holidays over those abroad. Among the most popular destinations are the Scottish Highlands and the Lake District.

Barclays Corporate Banking estimates that, if a preference for UK holidays continues at the same rate in 2022, it will add up to £9.2bn to the domestic tourism market.

Mike Saul, head of hospitality and leisure at Barclays Corporate Banking, said: “After a very difficult period for the hospitality sector, it is great to see how well the sector has bounced back. Our findings show an industry brimming with confidence and buoyed by surging revenues.

“However, it is also an industry that is undergoing a substantial amount of change – from the customers it serves to the products it sells. We have uncovered strong evidence that, particularly for younger customers, operators will need to place increased focus on healthy, sustainable and safe product ranges and to maintain investment in data and technology.”

The report found that on average, consumers are prepared to pay nearly 20 per cent extra for healthier food and drink options, and almost 18 per cent more for holiday accommodation that includes health and wellbeing services such as a gym or spa.

More than nine in ten (91 per cent) of hospitality and leisure operators are now prioritising “healthy” products among their portfolios.

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