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Large Businesses invest £1 in every five to attract ‘active leisure’ tourism

  • UK corporates have invested more than £1 in every five to target active leisure customers, as business revenues this quarter are expected to rise 21 per cent year-on-year
  • Nearly three-in-five (59 per cent) large UK companies are feeling optimistic about the economy, helped by a rise in staycations and UK-based ‘active leisure’ holidays
  • Seven in ten (71 per cent) hospitality businesses linked the rise in active leisure to increased foot-traffic to their venues
  • The Barclays Business Barometer launching today is the first to focus on large businesses, and will provide an in-depth look at the UK corporate environment

 Large businesses in the UK are feeling buoyant about the economy, with more than three-quarters (76 per cent) optimistic about their own prospects, and 59 per cent feeling positive about the wider UK economy. In contrast, less than a fifth (19 per cent) felt pessimistic. This is according to data from the first Barclays Business Barometer focused on large businesses, which measures the UK corporate business environment in the hospitality and leisure, retail and manufacturing industries1.

This optimism is driven, in part, by the rise in ‘active leisure’ tourism: tourism which is driven primarily by physical activities, such as cycling, running or walking holidays. 65 per cent of business leaders surveyed said these types of trips have surged in popularity in recent years, with more than seven in ten (71 per cent) hospitality businesses seeing an increase in ‘foot’-traffic due to active leisure.

As a result, business revenues this quarter are expected to increase 21 per cent year-on-year – an increase of around £14.9m in revenues per business surveyed on average – with more than two-thirds (67 per cent) of UK corporates planning high levels of investment over the next 12 months.

In fact, the average large business has already invested more than £1 in every five over the last year in targeting active leisure customers, through initiatives like offering dedicated accommodations (such as shower facilities or bike racks), interior design upgrades or new product ranges2

Active leisure tourism surge

The rise in active leisure tourism has brought significant benefits to the UK hospitality and leisure sector, which struggled during the COVID-19 pandemic. Nearly three-quarters (74%) of those in the hospitality and leisure sector said that targeting active leisure tourists enabled them to increase their revenues, whilst 64 per cent of business leaders credit its increasing popularity with helping high streets to recover.

Nearly seven in ten (69 per cent) businesses also believe active leisure is encouraging more Brits to visit historic buildings and sites, with tourists adventuring all across the country in search of iconic buildings and locations – particularly from their favourite films, TV series and video games. In fact, 76% of hospitality and leisure businesses with increased revenues report that the growth in active leisure allows them to target customers who are further away from where their physical premises are located. A third (33 per cent) of businesses also agreed that active leisure tourism enabled their locations outside London and the South East to benefit from increased footfall.

Active leisure tourists are also seen as bigger spenders while on holiday, with businesses agreeing that they were more likely to pay more on retail (37 per cent), drinks (35 per cent), accommodation (32 per cent) and dining (31 per cent), when compared to the average consumer.

David Farrow, Head of UK Corporate Banking at Barclays, said: “The surge in popularity of active leisure holidays in the UK has been a boon for large businesses, particularly in the hospitality and leisure sector. As many more of us visit historic sites and go on more walking trips and cycling tours, businesses in every corner of the country have the opportunity to feel the benefits of these dynamic and growing categories of leisure.

“This is reflected in the positive outlook displayed by the UK’s larger businesses, who expect growth both for themselves and for the wider UK economy.”


1Barclays commissioned Censuswide to conduct its large-business focused Barclays Business Barometer research. The study was conducted among 1,500 senior decision makers in the UK, split evenly three ways between leisure and hospitality; retail; and manufacturing, with a turnover of £6.5m+, with 25% of respondents from firms with £25m+ in revenue. There was a minimum of 50 respondents from Scotland. The research was conducted between 19 July 2023 – 4 August 2023. Censuswide abides by and employs members of the Market Research Society and follows the MRS code of conduct which is based on the ESOMAR principles.

2The average surveyed business reported having invested 23% of their annual available revenue for investment on special accommodations, interior design or product ranges to target active leisure customers.

About Barclays
Barclays is a British universal bank.  We are diversified by business, by different types of customer and client, and geography.  Our businesses include consumer banking and payments operations around the world, as well as a top-tier, full service, global corporate and investment bank, all of which are supported by our service company which provides technology, operations and functional services across the Group.  For further information about Barclays, please visit our website

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