Hilton Worldwide and the InterContinental Hotel Group (IHG) are among the hotel groups that have identified that tourist numbers from the fast-growing economies of Brazil, Russia, India and China (BRIC) are set to leap, as highlighted in a new report from VisitBritain.
Visitors from China, for instance, are predicted to rise by 89%, bringing in nearly 100,000 travellers to the UK by 2014 - the fastest increase in tourism to the UK from any country. It is believed that the number of Chinese tourists is linked to the growing popularity of English Premier League games, which draw weekly audiences of millions in China.
Tourism from India is expected to rise by 29%, from Russia by 24% and Brazil by 18%.
However, the report, Overseas Visitors to Britain, Understanding Trends, Attitudes and Characteristics, says that the bulk of the increase in overseas tourists will continue to come from the UK's traditional European and North American markets.
The largest number of new visitors is expected to come from France, Ireland, the USA, Germany and Spain. Together, these countries are forecast to send 3.3m additional visitors to Britain by 2014.
A spokesman for Hilton Worldwide said that the company is particularly targeting China and Russia to seek opportunities for growth of inbound travel into the UK, with rooms booked by Chinese visitors to its hotels increasing by 17% since 2008.
"We are actively encouraging the relaxation of visa requirements for Chinese and Russian visitors, which we believe would aid significant future growth," he said.
Meanwhile, Nick Rich, director consumer insights (Europe, Middle East, Africa) for IHG, said that when travellers from BRIC countries go overseas they want to stay with a hotel brand they know and trust.
"With the rise of low cost airlines, there's also an opportunity to travel for business and leisure and as the UK is one of the world's biggest leisure and business destinations it's not surprising that we've seen an increase in travel from these markets," he said. "As a result, we're always looking at what our guests are looking for when they stay at our hotels and adapt and evolve to suit their needs."
VisitBritain chief executive Sandie Dawes said the report shows that the prospects for UK tourism over the next few years should be positive.
"Visitor numbers overall were down by 6% last year, due largely to a sharp drop in international business travel," she said. "But, thanks to a good deal of hard work, we were still able to grow the inbound holiday tourism market by 5%, outperforming many European competitors.
"The challenge for Britain is that competition is getting tougher every year and we are not immune from Government demands for savings. But with the aid of the once-in-a-lifetime boost presented by the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, I am confident that we will come through the challenges ahead."
By Janet Harmer
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