Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality survey results

The weather played a big part in the trading results for a lot of tourism, leisure and hospitality businesses in 2018. But a big issue was the increasing awareness of plastic waste.

Our national association member, MHA Larking Gowen, has recently published the results of their annual Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality survey. The data was collected from businesses across their region in Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex and helps to provide representative information about the sector nationwide. The views, trends and results across a range of issues creates a useful benchmark and yardstick for UK businesses.

Goldilocks year

2018 has been nicknamed the “Goldilocks year” because there was too much snow in March, too much rain at Easter and it was too hot in the summer. For businesses in the tourism sector, this meant changes in customer spending habits, leading to mixed trading results. Many businesses have said that the weather is a leading concern for them and in response, there has been substantial investment into weather-proofing tourism attractions.

Survey highlights


In 2018 we continued to see the loss of swathes of the high street and the national restaurant chains. Some were only being saved by entering into company voluntary arrangements (CVAs) with their creditors and heavy negotiations on rents. For some, it really is quite tough out there.

The results of the survey indicated:

  • 49% of tourism, leisure and hospitality businesses saw revenue levels increase.
  • 31% suffered a decrease in income.


The tourism sector has clearly been doing its bit on plastic waste, with the majority of businesses reducing plastic in their cooking, cleaning, and purchasing habits.

But more can clearly be done around plastic waste:

  • 61% of tourism, leisure and hospitality businesses felt the local government could help them more in their endeavours.
  • 57% feel the drive should come from central government.

Social media

A third of tourism, leisure and hospitality businesses have increased marketing spend, with many making more effort to use social media and ‘sell’ an experience. The use of Facebook and YouTube has remained consistent, but 80% reported an increase in their use of Instagram.


The results showed mixed results in profits with only two in five businesses seeing an increase in profit levels. Chris Scargill, tourism, leisure and hospitality partner at MHA Larking Gowen, commented:

“Profit levels are essential to allow businesses to keep reinvesting, so it was good to see profits rise for a significant proportion of the tourism, leisure and hospitality sector, especially the fact that one in three increased profits by over 10% compared to last year. But with nearly a third of businesses seeing profits fall, this could be a worrying trend, particularly as two-fifths of those making a loss this year are anticipating losses in 2019.”

However, for now, investment continues:

  • 16% of businesses plan to extend their premises.
  • Three in five plan site improvements and refurbishment to help improve business.

2019 will inevitably be another interesting year for the tourism, leisure and hospitality sector!

You can read the full survey results by clicking here.

If you have any questions about the survey results in the context of your business, you can contact our Hospitality and Leisure team on 01903 234094.

A version of this blog originally appeared on the blog of MHA member firm, MHA Larking Gowen.