It’s King Charles III’s coronation in London on Saturday. While the coronation ceremony, a historic event taking place after seven decades, is cause for celebration in the U.K., it is also causing cheer among the country’s travel and tourism sector.
According to an analysis by Trip.com, hotel and flight bookings to the U.K. have revealed a whopping 70% jump, with an extra public holiday on Monday, May 8, resulting in a long weekend in the country.
This bank holiday, an annual public holiday on the first Monday in May, has created more opportunities to travel.
“An influx of domestic and international travelers arriving and staying in London is understandable, considering the enormous historical significance of the King’s coronation. The extra Bank Holiday has also added incentive to travel, enabling visitors to make the most of their free time, take in the pageantry and enjoy a spring break in London,” said Andy Washington, Trip.com Group general manager EMEA.
As per Trip.com, flight bookings made between January and April for arrivals into the U.K. over the bank holiday period (May 1-8) have surged 70%, with flight bookings to the U.K. made this January skyrocketing by 971% against January 2022.
Among the flights arriving in the U.K. between May 1 to May 8, 63% will land at one of the airports in London, with most inbound flights to the U.K. arriving from Spain and Italy. Roughly 7% and just over 5% of inbound flights to the U.K. will come from Barcelona and Malaga, respectively, while around 6% originate from Milan and over 3% from Rome.
Domestic travelers constituted the third largest group, traveling to London to participate in the coronation celebrations across the city.
Portugal, Germany, France, Greece, Norway, Sweden and Finland rounded up the top 10 traveling groups.
While the U.K. has been witnessing a boom in tourism, many U.K. citizens have taken advantage of the long weekend to travel overseas.
According to Trip.com, bookings for flights departing the U.K. between May 1-8 jumped 151% against 2022, with Spain, Italy and the Netherlands leading the destinations list. Of these flights, Barcelona, Amsterdam and Milan emerged as the most popular cities for travelers from the U.K.
Also emerging among the top 10 destinations were India, Portugal, Thailand, Germany, Ireland, France and Turkey.
Bookings for hotels during the same period surged 131% YOY. Interestingly, the study showed that most of these bookings were from U.K. travelers, with domestic trips as popular as ever.
The highest percentage of hotel bookings were for Camden and the City of Westminster, as travelers plan to stay close to the center of celebrations.
The coronation, coupled with Eurovision, has increased hotel occupancy in both London and Liverpool, according to STR’s Forward STAR data.
According to STR, London’s hotel occupancy on the books (as of April 24) showed May highs during the coronation weekend — Friday, May 5 (67.7%) and Saturday, May 6 (66.8%). This time in 2022, bookings were marginally below these levels, at 58.8% and 61.9%, respectively. The actual levels for the comparable dates touched 75.4% and 80.1%, respectively.
“As we approach the historic coronation of The King, hotel bookings across London are surging,” said Thomas Emanuel, STR’s senior director. “While the Friday and Saturday of coronation weekend have already hit a peak for May, we expect these figures to increase in the coming days as excitement grows and the eyes of the world are once again on London.”
INCREASED AMERICAN TRAVELERS
There has been a recent boom in North American tourists visiting the U.K. and Europe than before the pandemic. According to ForwardKeys data supplied to the World Travel and Tourism Council, flight bookings from the U.S. to the U.K. for April to June were up 30% from 2019.
“American tourists have always been important to the U.K. economy, especially London,” said Julia Simpson, WTTC president and chief executive. “Last year, one in seven visitors came from America. It is great to see they are back in force, boosting the U.K. economy and jobs.”
According to Visit Britain, from September to November 2022, visitor arrivals from North America rose 20% from the same period in 2019. London was the top European destination for North American travelers making bookings at the end of last year, according to Expedia’s traveler insights report, after Cancun in Mexico as an international destination.