The UK on the world tourist`s map
Hotels and Guest Houses
Renting and Buying
Leisure and Holiday Parks
Caravanning and Camping
Bed and Breakfast
Air Travel Information
Tourist industry in the UK
Tips for tourists
Development of tourist industry
The UK is a land made up of many regions each with a special character and cultural heritage. There are non-stop cities; festivals of music theatre literature and the arts; and regional countryside with rolling hills dramatic cliffs ancient forests rugged mountains and tranquil lakes. There are also wonderful islands to visit including the extraordinary range of the Scottish Islands the Isle of Man Anglesey the Scilly Isles the Isle of Wight and the Channel Islands. They have different traditional cultures delightful scenery and offer many habitats for wildlife.
To get the most of the variety on hand you could base yourself in a particular city or region. London Edinburgh Cardiff and Belfast and the major regional cities offer historic and modern architecture a spectrum of culture and more choice of day and night entertainment than you can fit into a hectic schedule. Or visit the beaches and the mountains of north Wales; absorb the dramatic scenery of Scotland and the Scottish Isles and its whisky; sail swim cycle and walk in the Lake District in Cumbria; visit the dramatic shores and fine countryside of Northern Ireland; take in the wildlife from a boat in the Fens of East Anglia; enjoy the cliffs beaches fishing and sailing resorts of Cornwall and Devon in the south-west.
There is still so much more: the Yorkshire Moors or coastal resorts; walking and mountain-biking in the Pennines; the Derbyshire towns and dales; the Welsh borders; the south coast resorts; the 'garden' of Kent; Pembrokeshire and the Gower Peninsula in south Wales.
The British Isles is visited by millions of people each year many returning time and again. It is seeped in history and has some stunning landscapes. It is also quirky at times so you are assured of an interesting visit!
The principality of Wales is full of fascinating places to visit and stay. The castles of Beaumaris Conwy Harlech and Caernarfon are officially listed as World heritage sites and provide an insight into the troubled past of this great land. The national park of Snowdonia is stunning and provides walkers and climbers with ample opportunities to challenge their limits. South Wales also has interesting places to visit: Pembrokeshire is especially inviting for tourists.
We all know about the attractions of London but England has a lot more to offer outside of the city. The ‘English Riviera’ Torquay is blessed with good weather and is a major tourist attraction. This is a great place to stay and explore the local seaside resorts and go inland towards the vast moors.
Windsor castle is a great place to visit and the town and surrounding areas are beautiful. Warwick castle in the centre of England is world famous and holds regular evens to show how life was like in the time it was built.
This Roman town has a fascinated history stretching back over 1500 years. This can be seen from the Roman Medieval and Tudor remains liberally scattered across the city. The Walls surrounding the city can be walked around in a couple of hours and allow plenty of opportunity to take photographs. The world famous Rows date back over 500 years and are great for walking and shopping.
A great place to visit Scotland still has many places that are relatively uninhabited. And are great for getting away from it all. Ben Nevis is the highest mountain in the British Isles and the numerous lochs provide great fishing (Beware of the Loch Ness monster!) . In parts you can still hear Gaelic spoken and we all know about the Scottish expertise in making Whisky! You can also visit the ski resorts of Aviemore in the Cairngorms . Glasgow the capital is now recognised as a centre of culture as well as being a great shopping centre.
Perhaps the best thing about the British Isles is its compactness. You can visit many places in a relatively short period of time. The most fascinating part of visiting is travelling the back roads and coming across places not regularly visited by Tourists. Come to the British Isles and see for yourselves what it has to offer.
The UK on the world tourist`s map
Hotels and Guest Houses
You will find a significant difference in both price and facilities between hotels and guest houses in the UK. Hotels usually offer breakfasts lunches teas dinners a licensed bar and a range of services and facilities to suit individuals families and often business groups. Country house hotels will often add recreational facilities in their grounds such as golf tennis swimming health spas gyms and attended play areas for children. Top league international hotels in London and major cities offer comprehensive amenities and services for business and holiday guests and a choice of first class and luxury accommodation. Guest houses may not have bars or offer lunch or teas but will have television and sitting lounges.
In England and Wales the AA RAC (the largest UK motoring organisations) and the English Tourist Council have come together to provide an overall star for hotels and diamond rating for guest accommodation including bed and breakfast. Hotels have between one and five stars; guest accommodation between one and five diamonds. In Scotland and Northern Ireland all tourist accommodation is also graded regularly to provide a clear indication of the level of facilities you can expect.
Renting and Buying
If you are planning a longer stay in the UK you may consider renting or buying property in the UK.
Rented property is available all over the UK and there is a large rental market for properties in London. Rented property is offered both furnished and unfurnished and typically involves short-lease tenancies. In London and major cities there are agencies that specifically offer property for rent. National regional and local estate agents also represent owners of rented property and you can also find apartments ('flats') and houses available to let through online agencies newspaper advertisements and dedicated property magazines.
Estate agents often provide a complete service for those wishing to buy property. This typically includes professional services such as valuing and surveying potential properties. They may also offer in-house or affiliated legal services to cover the buying process (known as 'conveyancing') and often have links to established mortgage firms who provide long-term loans for purchases. Conveyancing services are also widely available through solicitors and finance is offered competitively through banks building societies and other financial institutions.
It is highly recommended that you seek independent legal advice if you are considering buying property in the UK.
Leisure and Holiday Parks
Leisure and holiday parks are a way of enjoying an extremely wide variety of recreational and leisure pursuits at one site. They are located all over the UK with many based at or near coastal resorts. They usually offer accommodation for touring or camping as well as lodges chalets or spacious static caravans for hire - all well equipped so you can set up your temporary home as you wish.
The great benefit of this form of holiday accommodation is the facilities for young children which can include kids clubs attended play areas activity workshops waterslides heated indoor and outdoor swimming pools children's farms pets corners and even summertime pantomimes. For teenagers and adults there are nightclubs pubs restaurants and a variety of sports. Some leisure parks focus on particular interest holidays such as sailing golfing fishing or horse-riding.
The British Graded Holiday Parks Rating Scheme which gives ratings reflecting facilities and environment may help you choose from the variety on offer.
There are many hostels located all over England Wales Scotland and Northern Ireland. Hostels vary in style and amenities but they offer bedrooms with between two and six beds for young people families and groups. They usually provide substantial breakfasts and dinners at low prices and have communal kitchen facilities if you prefer to cater for yourself.
The main hostel organisations are the Youth Hostel Association (YHA) the Scottish Youth Hostel Association (SYHA) and Hostelling International Northern Ireland (HINI). You do not have to be a 'youth' to stay because there is no upper age limit (in Scotland the lower age limit is 5). But you do have to be a member of the YHA or SYHA which involves paying a small annual membership fee. There are also a variety of independent hostels offering accommodation. Staying in hostels is traditionally popular with people pursuing backpacking walking cycling or generally exploring outdoor pursuits. But there are also hostels in many towns and cities which enable members to enjoy good basic accommodation on a low budget.
Caravanning and Camping
Many visitors often families choose caravanning or camping (C&C) over other accommodation - for good reason. A camping park does not tie you down; it can be a stopover a base for exploration or a place of leisure. C&C parks in the UK are cheap but offer many advantages. All provide good washing facilities basic amenities and utilities to enable comfortable living. There's often a shop on site and recreation facilities for children and adults. Many are open all year and are good for short breaks in spring autumn or even the winter months.
Most parks admit tents touring and motor caravans and offer a range of central facilities. The larger parks will have caravan holiday homes for hire. These are usually spacious and well equipped with two or three good sized bedrooms a sitting room with comfortable furnishings and a separate dining area. They will often have modern conveniences such as colour televisions fridges hot showers en-suite bathrooms and microwaves.
There's a great choice all over the UK. To help you choose the national tourist boards inspect C&C sites in their regions and grade them according to the British Graded Holiday Parks Scheme. Ratings of between one and five stars are awarded based on cleanliness environment and the quality of facilities and services provided.
Bed and Breakfast
Bed and breakfast accommodation advertised by the famous 'B&B vacancies' sign is mostly in private homes and the emphasis is on bedrooms rather than on facilities such as a bar or restaurant. They are often the least expensive form of guest accommodation although prices vary between those in the most popular holiday locations and those offering stopovers 'en route'.
Thousands of bed and breakfasts have been visited anonymously by tourist officers to be inspected for a diamond rating of between one and five stars. This is intended as a guide to the quality of accommodation and food on offer.
As private homes including farmhouses and working farms B&Bs tend to offer a very personal welcome and an insight into British ways of life in different parts of the country. Breakfast is intended to fill you and will often include bacon eggs fried bread tomatoes even fried potatoes and local additions such as black pudding. Or you can enjoy a 'continental' breakfast: cereal bread toast tea coffee and juice.
Travelling by coach is a great way to travel across most parts of the country at much cheaper prices than travelling by train. Coach services can be used to take you on business and leisure and more people are finding coach travel espically when commuting to work a useful mode of transport.
National Express and it's associated companies provide the most comprehensive coach service across the UK and times and fares for their services can be seen on the National Express web site.
There are far more coach services than National Express here is a short list of useful ones.
Buy Coach Tickets Online:
National Express - National coach operator
Regular Coach services:
AirLinks - Provides connections to from and between airports.
Armchair - Provides commuter coach services from Reading and Maidenhead to London.
Berry's Coaches - Services between London and the West Country.
EasyBus - A potential coach service to keep your eye on which is intending to offer London to Birmingham for £1.
Green Line - Provides connections across South East England.
MegaBus - Amazingly cheap intercity bus travel across the UK
National Express - Travel around Britain with National Express.
Oxford Bus - Services between London and Oxford.
Scottish Citylink - Travel around Scotland with ease.
Unlike other forms of transport within the UK bus travel is not nationally coordinated and there is no national online bus journey planner although Traveline is a good attempt. In addition two unofficial services are worth checking out. CarlBerry is an excellent attempt at helping people plan bus journeys across the UK. Xephos Internet has tried to produce the ultimate system a combined bus and train journey planner.
Advice about bus times can be gained up ringing 0870 608 2 608 which is the National Public Transport information line.
Depending on numbers involved coach travel is probably the cheapest way to get around the UK particularly between the major towns and cities. National Express Scottish Citylink and Ulsterbus offer daily services to more than 1 300 destinations in England Scotland Wales and Northern Ireland. National Express offers discount coachcards to students and young people aged 16 to 25; there is also a Tourist Trail Pass offering unlimited travel for a fixed period. The Scottish Explorer Pass covers coach services to around 190 destinations in Scotland. Coaches have toilet and washroom facilities and long routes usually provide videos and steward services offering snacks.
Tourist operators provide a great many special coach tours taking in local and regional sites. Coaches and minibuses are also widely available for corporate travel and group hire.
There are regular local and regional bus services operated by town and city councils throughout the UK. However services to and from remote rural areas tend to be infrequent.
For the latest Road travel Information please visit the following web sites:
AA Roadwatch - AA traffic reports.
AA Route Planner - Plan your journey across the UK.
Geostar - Very detailed route planner for the whole of Europe.
Get Me There - Plan your journey across the UK and Europe. Provided by Toyota.
Highways Agency - Motorway traffic reports.
RAC - With the latest traffic reports and journey planner this is a good site for all car drivers.
Traffic Wales: North - Latest traffic report from the North Wales Regional Traffic Control Centre.
Traffic Wales: South - Latest traffic report from the South Wales Regional Traffic Control Centre.
The UK is surrounded by water but with the low cost of air travel where and when is sea travel a viable option? Here is a guide the main ferry services from the UK.
The railway in the UK started in 1825 is the grandfather of all railway systems now featuring more than 2 400 stations serviced by 15 000 daily departures. The fast inter-city trains have standard or first class seats the latter offering varying degrees of luxury and additional service depending on the service operator. Standard seating is generally comfortable and most trains have restaurant or buffet cars or mobile refreshments. There are air-conditioned sleeping cars on overnight services from London to Wales Scotland and the south-west of England.
Whenever you travel by train ask which kind of ticket will save you the most money. There are many variables depending on when you travel. Also ask your local British Tourist Authority office or travel agent about railway ticket discount packages. The BritRail Pass for example is not sold in the UK. In North America it is available from Rail Europe in New York and in Europe you can get it from Rail Europe offices selected travel agents and major railway stations. Please not that travel on the London Underground or Heathrow Express is not included in a BritRail pass.
Make advance reservations to carry cycles by train; sometimes there is a small charge for this.
Network Rail - Provides rail timetable information for Britain's national rail network.
DB Timetable search - Provides european (including UK) rail timetable information.
Xephos Internet - Although unofficial a very good public transport journey planner. Includes bus and rail timetables.
Travel InfoSystems - Provides online and software application based journey planning solutions.
Live Train Running Information
National Rail - Provides a central source for all UK rail enquiries including real time running information for train services across the British railway network.
Tram systems now exist in the following parts of the country:
Blackpool Trams - Operates between Blackpool and Fleetwood.
Croydon Tramlink - Serves parts of South London.
Metrolink - Operates in the Greater Manchester area.
Midland Metro - Operates between Birmingham and Wolverhamption.
Stagecoach Supertram - serves the city of Sheffield with three light rail routes covering 29 kilometres across the city.
Air Travel Information
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Book Airline Tickets (from InfoTransport)
Ebooker - Great prices from hundreds of airlines to anywhere in the world.
Air France - Travel the world with Air France.
German Wings - Great prices to Germany.
KLM UK - Travel the world with KLM.
Singapore Airlines - Direct flight to Singapore.
Virgin Atlantic - Flights around the world.
There are about 50 000 restaurants in the United Kingdom. Their turnover amounted to £18.2 billion in 2001. Almost two-thirds of businesses offer takeaway facilities.
The industry is highly fragmented with low entry barriers. The majority of restaurants are independent small businesses trading through a single outlet.
In 2002 93% of VAT-registered firms had a turnover of less than £500 000 (with 43% having sales of under £100 000). Only 3% of VATregistered firms had a turnover of £1m or more. The three largest chains are estimated to account for less than 10% of the market; the leading 40 chains account for less than 15%.
The degree of concentration varies though:
• almost all ‘traditional’ cafes snack bars and
tearooms are single-outlet businesses
• chains are more prominent in the ‘modern’ fast
food (especially burgers and pizzas) and midpriced
‘family’ restaurant sectors.
Competition takes place in local markets and is strong - major chains are expanding their operations and new entrants continue to be attracted to the market.
The number of VAT-registered restaurant and takeaway businesses has continued to rise over the last five years (at a higher rate than the total number of VAT-registered enterprises which indeed fell slightly in 2002) and problems of overcapacity exist in some areas.
Expansion of capacity has been greatest in the low to mid-priced segments of the market most notably amongst fast food operators and ‘niche’ operators such as coffee bar chains. For example one estimate suggests that the number of coffee bar outlets has increased by more than 55% over the last four years. Moreover expansion has been most rapid amongst the leading five coffee bar operators which collectively have more than doubled their number of outlets since the end of the 1990s. The two largest coffee bar chains are estimated to account for about 45% of the market.
Expansion has been greatest in London and the south. However with the capital in particular showing signs of market saturation the leading chains are increasingly seeking to expand in other geographical areas.
The continued expansion in the number of restaurants and takeaways in recent years has been encouraged by a long-term trend towards consumers eating-out more frequently. At the same time the increasing willingness of consumers to try a broader range of cuisine has encouraged the development of new eating-out concepts (with London remaining a ‘testing ground’ for many).
However catering’s share of total consumers’ expenditure has declined over the last decade as eating-out has had to compete with other goods and services for a share of consumers’ leisure spending. In 2001 catering accounted for 7.8% of total real consumers’ expenditure compared with 8.1% in 2000 and 10% in 1990.
Certainly over the last five years spending on eating-out has risen less rapidly than total consumers’ expenditure with demand for catering services being particularly weak in 2001. Having increased by 3% in real terms in 2000 spending on eating-out rose by only 0.5% in 2001. Within this trend demand deteriorated during the course of the year spending levels being 0.4% lower in the second half of 2001 than in the corresponding period of 2000.
The foot-and-mouth crisis played a role in the deterioration in the industry’s performance in 2001 impacting adversely on independent businesses operating in rural locations as well as on those dependent on overseas visitors.
In addition to the adverse impact of the foot-and-mouth crisis some catering businesses dependent on overseas visitors reported a further downturn in trade following the 11th September US terrorist attacks. For example in October 2001 the Restaurant Association of Great Britain reported that some restaurants had suffered a 20% fall in business since 11th September.
Restaurants located in London have been most adversely affected by the fall in overseas visitor numbers (especially from the United States and Japan).
Real consumer spending on eating-out has shown signs of improving in 2002: in the second quarter of the year spending levels were 1.2% higher than a year earlier - this compares with a year-on-year increase of only 0.1% in the first quarter of 2002.
Nevertheless spending on eating-out continues to rise at a slower rate than total consumers’ expenditure: total real consumer spending rose by 3.5% in the first quarter of 2002 and by 4.1% in the second quarter of the year.
Given that the number of restaurants and takeaways has continued to rise but that consumer spending on eating-out has weakened over the last two years competitive pressures have increased as problems of overcapacity have been exacerbated. In the light of recent trading conditions some chains have been re-assessing their operations (e.g. concentrating on developing the most successful areas of their businesses ‘refreshing’ brands and disposing of underperforming areas).
However a number of chains are continuing to pursue aggressive expansion programmes.
Consequently there is no prospect of an easing of competitive pressures in the foreseeable future.
There are about 60 000 public houses in the United Kingdom. Collectively their turnover amounted to £19.1 billion in 2001.
In 2002 93% of VAT-registered firms had a urnover of less than £500 000; only 2% had sales of £1 million or more.
The ownership structure of the pub trade has changed significantly over the last decade: the 1989 Beer Orders forced the national brewers to reduce the size of their tied estates providing opportunities for the ‘free trade’ to more than double in size since that time. In particular ‘newer’ large independent pub chains have been gaining market share at the expense of smaller ‘traditional’ freehouses.
In contrast the number of brewery-owned pubs fell from about 44 000 in 1989 to just over 10 000 in 2001. However the major brewers’ share of pub turnover has fallen less rapidly than their share of outlets since 1989: with a limit on the number of tied outlets which they may own the major brewers have been developing estates of larger outlets.
Following a review of the 1989 Beer Orders it was announced in December 2000 that the cap on the size of brewers’ tied estates was to be removed.
The removal of the cap could make it easier for the major brewers and larger regional brewers to expand their pubs portfolios. However those not wishing to incur acquisition costs will still be able to secure outlets for their beer through supply agreements. Indeed some brewing groups are seeking to dispose of - rather than acquire – pub outlets.
Alcoholic Drink Total Consumer Spending Total consumer spending on alcoholic drink has been weak for much of the last decade.
In 2001 the foot-and-mouth crisis exacerbated problems for some independent pubs in rural locations as well as those dependent on overseas visitors. In addition some businesses dependent on overseas visitors reported a downturn in trade following the 11th September US terrorist attacks.
Some improvement in trading conditions was seen in the first half of 2002 with sales being boosted by the World Cup and the Golden Jubilee. However trading conditions have been mixed subsequently with for example poor weather being blamed for a weakening in demand in July.
Moreover pubs continue to compete with other licensed premises as well as the take-home trade for a share of spending on drink. Consequently many pub operators have been seeking to broaden their customer base by offering a wider range of services and facilities (e.g. placing greater emphasis on food sales a move which has resulted in the pub trade increasing its share of the eatingout market). However lower turnover pubs tend to trade through smaller outlets the physical constraints of which limit their ability to develop new income sources.
Against this background both brewers and independent pub operators continue to review their estate portfolios. At the same time industry consolidation is increasing with in particular merger and acquisition activity amongst independent pub chains having risen over the last year. The ten largest operators are now estimated to own over 45% of UK pub outlets.
Little improvement in trading conditions is expected in the short term with total alcohol consumption expected at best to rise only modestly over the next twelve months. Pubs will continue to vie with other licensed premises as well as the take-home trade in a fiercely competitive market.
Opportunities for some pubs to gain business from nightclubs may arise in the medium term when proposed licensing reforms come into force. Large city centre/high street pubs would be most likely to take advantage of the opportunity to extend opening hours. However only a very small proportion of pubs would be likely to open 24 hours.
Pubs which offer a wider range of products and services will generally fare better than purely drink-oriented pubs. This trend is unfavourable to small lower turnover outlets which will remain most at risk of disposal or closure as estate portfolios continue to be reviewed. Given the benefits that can be gained through economies of scale further industry consolidation is expected.
Tourist industry in the UK
The Romans founded the city of Londinium in the first century on the banks of the river Thames. They went about their business building roads and aqueducts as you would expect. Parts of these roads are still visible today. Amazing.
In 1066 the Normans (Frenchmen) invaded England and London seemed like a good choice as the capital city. Apparently this was the last time the British lost a battle on home soil......don't mess with these guys. By the year 1600 London was home to 200 000 inhabitants and things were going along swimmingly.
This all changed in 1665 with the arrival of the bubonic plague (Black Death) carried by rats which wiped out half of the population. The next year (1666) marked the Great Fire of London. This had the effect of dealing the death blow to the remnants of the plague while destroying most of London at the same time. Talk about consecutive action-packed years. The modern city is based upon the subsequent rebuilding of the city.
London expanded all the while. This was facilitated particularly by the opening of over ground and underground railway systems. The first underground line was opened in 1863 and used steam engines to ferry passengers around. Think about that the next time you're on the tube.
World War II bombing and commercial expansion have changed the face of London. Recently the Docklands area has been rejuvenated and the Millennium Dome (the largest of its type in the world) has been added to Greenwich.
London an amazing city where the old lives alongside the new.