Overseas visitors to the UK spent £2.8 billion in August, up 3% on the same month last year, and the highest ever. It was a record August for inbound visits to the UK, with 3.9 million visits, up 5% on the same month in 2016.
There was particularly strong growth in August in visits from EU countries, the UK’s largest visit-generating region, with 2.4 million visits, up 6%. Figures from the Office for National Statistics bring the total number of overseas visits to the UK from January to August to 27.1 million, up 8% on 2016. Spending by visitors during this period reached a record £16.4 billion, up 10% on last year.
Tourism Minister John Glen said: “Tourism is an economic force that creates jobs and drives growth up and down the country. These record-breaking figures for August reaffirm the UK’s position as a global go-to destination and show the continued strength of the sector.”
VisitBritain Director Patricia Yates said: “Tourism is one of Britain’s most valuable export industries and it is encouraging that this strong growth has continued during the summer.
“With Britain continuing to offer good value and with great deals in market, we are confident of a strong festive season and beyond as we showcase why our nations and regions should top people’s list as the must-go-now destination.”
The latest market specific figures, for the first six months of 2017, showed strong growth from China, the world’s most valuable outbound market. Between January and June 2017 there were 115,000 inbound visits from China to the UK, up 47% on last year. Visitors from China spent a record £231 million during this period, up 54%.
VisitBritain is hosting its annual travel trade event to China next week (Tuesday 21 to Thursday 23 November) to showcase why Britain is a must-go-now destination. More than 60 travel trade and industry suppliers from across the UK including hotels and retailers, visitor attractions, tour operators and local destinations will be doing business with 75 buyers from 13 destinations across China, promoting the latest tourism products and services.
Today’s statistics follow the publication of the 2017 Anholt-GfK Nation Brands Index (NBI) which saw the UK ranked third overall for tourism globally, equaling its highest rank ever and up two places from last year. The ranking considered attributes including historic buildings and monuments, having a vibrant city life and natural beauty. When considering its overall brand, the UK maintained a rank of third out of 50 nations in this year’s NBI, a position it has held since 2011.
VisitBritain forecasts that inbound visits to the UK will reach 39.7 million by the end of this year, with overseas visitors spending £25.7 billion. Tourism is worth £127 billion annually to the UK economy, creating jobs and boosting economic growth across its nations and regions.