What does Brexit mean for Bristol’s tourism industry?

What does Brexit mean for Bristol’s tourism industry?

Bristol is famous for many of its thriving industries – most notably the nautical, manufacturing and aerospace industries.

One of the lesser known industries in the city is its tourism industry, which actually helps equate to a large part of the cities incoming economy.

Bristol was ranked as the seventh most popular tourist city in the UK by travel website TripSavvy earlier this year.

But with the UK’s departure from the EU lingering, what will the tourism levels in the city be like in a post-Brexit world?

Kathryn Davis, Head of Tourism at Destination Bristol, said ”We’re really proud to see Bristol ranked in the top 10 for tourist destinations in the UK. Obviously we want to build on that, but it isn’t all about growth, growth, growth. We just want to create an environment that is attractive to visitors”.

Talking about how the city can combat the impact that Brexit might have on the levels of tourism in Bristol, Davis added ”Obviously it is going to be a challenge. There will be issues around passports and Visas, but we still think it is important to maintain air connectivity”.

Kathryn Davis, Head of Tourism, Destination Bristol
Kathryn Davis, Head of Tourism, Destination Bristol

”One of the big benefits for visitors flying into Bristol is that you can be air-side to bedside within an hour of landing – you might not even be off the plane within an hour at Heathrow or somewhere else. A big part of the attractiveness of coming to Bristol is if you’ve come for a short break in the city, you’re getting a short break in the city and not a short break in the airport” she said.

But how can we make sure that Bristol remains a successful tourist destination after Brexit?

”Keep talking about it [Bristol]. Keep on sharing those Instagram pictures, keep on sharing that video content. Keep on bigging up Bristol – it’s important that it isn’t left for just one organisation to do that job and everyone takes a collective responsibility to share their passions for the city”.

Bristol has a wealth of attractions that tourists flock to when they visit the city.

The city is blessed with works by architect’s such as Isambard Kingdom Brunel, and artworks from the notorious street artist Banksy.

The city is also the home of the SS Great Britain, another one of Brunel’s works. The SS Great Britain brings in the largest number of overseas tourists each year.

The SS Great Britain
The SS Great Britain

Dominic Rowe of the SS Great Britain Trust said ”With the amount of overseas visitors we attract, there is obviously going to be a little bit of concern over what will happen to the amount of them we see post-Brexit”.

”It might have a positive impact, but it could also have a negative impact on us – the uncertainty is the worst because it makes planning for it that much harder” he added.

Some of the other popular attractions in the city, such as We The Curious, The Hippodrome and The Bristol Museum and Art Gallery, might also be concerned over their future level of customers once Brexit has been initiated and then completed.

The Bristol Aquarium is also a popular choice for tourists and people who live in the city.

Located on Anchor Road, near the cities famous Harbourside, the facility is in an ideal location and is very near the city centre.

Hannah Worrall, Marketing and Communications Manager for Bristol Aquarium, said ”We are what you call a half-day attraction. We get a high number of people who are just visiting the city and then the Aquarium then becomes pat of their day out. They can couple us with half a day of shopping or exploring other city centre sights – that makes us quite an easy attraction to come and visit and we don’t require you to commit a long period of time to come here”.

On the topic of Brexit’s potential impact, she added ”For us, as a city centre attraction, we are really focused on making sure that we bring in as many people as possible from the local area first and foremost. We see this as a bit of a positive after Brexit. The pound isn’t so strong, so we are seeing a lot more people ‘stay-cationing’ and seeing their own city centre’s sights – that is great for us”.

Hannah Worrall in one of Bristol Aquarium's Botanical Gardens
Hannah Worrall, Bristol Aquarium’s Botanical Gardens

”We do think we will see more visitors from overseas coming to visit. Because the pound is so weak, people want to come over and make sure that they’e getting a good valued experience of the UK” she said.

”Coupling ourselves with organisations like Destination Bristol and getting all of the sites working together, all pulling together as one and really promoting Bristol as a destination, that’s what we want. Then we can encourage more people to come over here and then try and get them to visit us as part of that”.

Whatever happens after Brexit, it seems that Bristol’s tourism industry is willing to put up a fight.


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