Tourism: Visitors set to break record

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The Independent Online
The number of overseas tourists visiting Britain reached almost 20 million in the first nine months of this year, it was announced yesterday. The Office for National Statistics said that a surge in numbers in September took the running total to 19.98 million, boosted by a major influx from North America, where visitor numbers are so far up 11 per cent this year.

The near 20 million figure is 2 per cent up on the January-September 1996 total and last year's record annual figure of nearly 26 million is expected to be beaten. The number of visitors from western Europe rose slightly in September, reaching 1.49 million compared with 1.47 million in September, 1996 - but, mainly due to the strong pound, their numbers this year are 1 per cent down. So far this year overseas visitors have spent pounds 9.64bn - 2 per cent more than January-September 1996.

The ONS also said 15.5 million visits were made abroad by UK residents in July-September, 1997 - up from 14.03 million for 1996 .