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Number of inbound visits to UK edges close to 40 million

Last year was a record one for inbound tourism to the UK... 24th July 2018

Source: The Caterer

Last year was a record one for inbound tourism to the UK, with visits from overseas up 4% to 39.2 million, according to new figures published from the Office of National Statistics.

An increase in number of visitors from China, Australia, the Middle East, India and the US helped drive up the figures, which produced a 9% rise in spend to £24.5b in 2017.

Visits from China grew by 29% to a record 337,000, accompanied by spend of £694m, up 35%.

The US, the UK’s most valuable market for tourism, produced a 13% increase in visits, up 13% to 3.9 million – the highest since 2000 – with spend up 9% to a record £3.6b.

Visits from the Middle East and India were up by 5% to 812,000 and by 35% to 562,000 respectively, while spend from Middle East travellers rose by 55% to £2.2m, with visitors from India spending £454m.

There were also a record 25.6 million visits from the EU last year, with visitors spending £10b.

Tourism minister Michael Ellis welcomed the new figures. He said: “Britain’s tourism industry is booming. We are working hard to sustain this excellent growth and encourage international visitors to travel around the UK, ensuring that more communities can benefit.”

Patricia Yates, director of VisitBritain, added: “Tourism is one of Britain’s most valuable export industries and the strong growth across many of our high-value markets demonstrates our continued ability to attract international visitors in a fiercely competitive global industry, and to deliver economic growth right across the country.

“This growth underscores the increasing importance of tourism as an industry that demonstrates Britain is an outward-facing nation, welcoming and engaging people from all over the world.”

Tourism is now worth £127b annually to the UK economy.

Mike Saul, head of hospitality & leisure at Barclays, said: “Boosted by the weakness of sterling, the UK’s position as a leading draw continues to bring benefit to our hospitality & leisure businesses, as well as to the retail sector.

“In uncertain economic and political times, it’s reassuring to see an almost 5% increase year on year in the number of overseas travellers coming here as well as spending more than £24b on visits in 2017 which bodes well for the sector.”

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