Numbers from overseas taking holidays in Britain are up again this year

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Some of the coldest May weather this century failed to deter hordes of overseas visitors from flocking to Britain earlier this summer, it was disclosed yesterday.

A total of 2.3 million foreign holiday-makers came to Britain in May 1996 - a 17 per cent increase on the May 1995 figure, said the Office for National Statistics.

They spent pounds 995m - 5 per cent more than in May 1995. The number of overseas visitors to Britain from January to May 1996 totalled 9.1 million, a 9 per cent increase on the first five months of 1995.

The amount they spent in the first five months of this year was pounds 3.98bn - 1 per cent up on January to May 1995.

Last year saw the UK welcome a record 23.6 million overseas visitors. The British Tourist Authority (BTA) said yesterday that it expected the final 1996 figure to top 25 million.

"The latest monthly figures show Britain's increasing attraction as a tourist country," said a BTA spokeswoman.

"The visitor numbers from Europe are particularly good, and we confidently expect the 1995 record to be surpassed."