Published earlier this year, Walpole’s tourism manifesto, What it’s Worth: Enabling the Return of the £30bn High-End Tourism Sector, identified the UK as having been Europe’s number one high-end tourism destination pre-pandemic. Given that affluent international visitors to the UK spend 14 times that of mass tourists – making a powerful contribution not only to the country’s world-leading hotels, but to the whole high-end ecosystem of culture, entertainment, and retail – and with the knowledge that our high-end tourism offer generated more than 30% more revenue than France, Italy or Spain, and two thirds more than either Germany or Switzerland, we see high-end tourism as a crucial growth driver for this country. In the light of the Chancellor’s recent decision to reverse the decision to reintroduce tax-free shopping, Walpole asked its members to share their thoughts on the value of the high-end visitor, and to let us know what they were doing in their own businesses to drive the appeal for this important customer group.
If your company has been affected by the reversal on the reintroduction of tax-free shopping and you would like to be featured in this series, please email [email protected]
How Iconic Luxury Hotels appeals to a high-end customer
by Andrew Stembridge, Iconic Luxury Hotels Executive Director
"With the upcoming coronation of King Charles III, there is so much to celebrate and many opportunities to woo international visitors back to the UK. Alongside this milestone occasion, other UK tourism initiatives that could be more heavily promoted overseas include Wimbledon, Henley and the Chelsea Flower Show. These events are a perfect opportunity to put the UK back on the international map.
"We launched The Mayfair Townhouse in December 2020, and international high net worth individuals would usually be our strongest group. But the bad timing of the VAT Retail Export Scheme finishing means the UK needs to work harder to tempt HNWI shoppers across the Atlantic. It isn’t just luxury outlets that benefit: pre-pandemic, tax-free shopping enticed HNWI tourists to stay in London for several days, spending money on theatres and restaurants. In fact, we purposely didn’t create a restaurant at The Mayfair Townhouse and outsource guest transport because we want to encourage our guests to support local businesses.
"Elsewhere in our portfolio , we have continually invested with refurbishments, building treehouses, expanding alfresco dining and introducing new experiences such as the chance to walk sheep at Chewton Glen! We’re more-than-ready for when international visitors return and actively look forward to welcoming them. Whether it’s the English countryside or some of this summer’s incredible events, the UK has so much to shout about. I just think we need to shout louder.”