32 million people can't be wrong: ONS numbers show overseas visitor boom
From the British Museum and Big Ben to Stonehenge and Scotland’s whisky distilleries, overseas visitors flocked to Britain in unprecedented numbers last year, according to new figures.
Thanks to a long, hot summer, favourable exchange rates and a post-Olympic “bounce”, the tourism industry enjoyed a record-breaking 32 million visits to Britain in 2013, the highest number since records began and a 5.6 per cent rise on a “disappointing performance” in 2012.
The latest figures, published by the Office of National Statistics, also confirmed what many tourism officials and hotel owners already suspected – booming numbers translated into cold, hard cash with tourism earnings soaring 12.7 per cent to an unprecedented £21 billion.
“We are delighted with these final results for the key post-Olympic year. Every single nation across Britain has seen an uplift in visitor numbers,” said Christopher Rodrigues, chairman of Visit Britain. “And, even more importantly, there have been substantial increases in spending for one of Britain’s largest export industries.”
The figures also show that London overtook Paris as the world’s most popular tourism destination with 16.8 million visits, thanks to a “post-Olympic boom” and a surge in the popularity of the British Royal Family coinciding with the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012 and the birth of Prince George.
A run of “blockbuster” exhibitions in the capital, including Constable at the V&A, Ming at the British Museum and Rembrandt at the National Gallery, also contributed to the boom, according to the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions (ALVA).
London Mayor Boris Johnson hailed as a “tribute to the outstanding mix of culture, art, music and sport to be found” in the capital. However an aide for Anne Hidalgo, the new Socialist mayor of the French capital, told the Evening Standard: “The new British figures will be analysed, but they sound fanciful. Visitor numbers to Paris are impressive and unrivalled.”
Throughout the rest of Britain visitor number in the rest of England, Scotland and Wales grew by as much as 10 per cent, reversing falls, while spending growth outpace the capital.
Edinburgh, Manchester, Birmingham and Liverpool were the most popular UK towns outside of the capital, but the tourist boom has been felt on even the farthest-flung extremities of the UK. On Islay in the Inner Hebrides Simon Coughlin, chief executive of Bruichladdich, a small single malt whisky distillery, said “there’s no question” the tourist boom had spread out to the furthest reaches of the British Isles.
He said: “Our distillery tours and Islay generally are busier than ever. Scottish whisky is known the world over and people want to see where it’s made, fall in love with the country and come back time and time again.”
While at Stonehenge English Heritage reported an 18.9 per cent rise is visitors last year. A spokesman said: “We had a fantastic year, with more than half of all visitors to Stonehenge coming from abroad… we saw increasing visitor numbers at Hadrian’s Wall and Tintagel Castle, indicating that discovering England’s rich history is a key part of many people’s itinerary.”
Bernard Donoghue, director of ALVA, said that “outdoor attractions, such as stately homes, gardens and zoos beyond the capital did much better than previous years”. He put this down to a “long, hot summer” and a “favourable” exchange rate against the euro which made Britain “an affordable destination” for French and German visitors.
He added: “The rest of the country outside of the capital is set to get an even bigger slice of the tourism cake in future. On their first visit to the UK tourists pretty much exclusively head to London, but our research shows that on their second and third visits, they are actually more likely to visit the rest of the country, to explore its heritage history and countryside.”
- 1 Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Pro-Russian rebel 'admits to shooting down plane'
- 2 Louis van Gaal gets tough with Manchester United players, with Darren Fletcher and Luke Shaw berated in public and Phil Jones left looking bemused
- 3 Is Gideon Levy the most hated man in Israel or just the most heroic?
- 4 Peaches Geldof inquest: Tragic final moments of socialite's life reveal she lied to husband about failed heroin tests
- 5 Israel has discovered that it's no longer so easy to get away with murder in the age of social media
Lana Del Rey: 'I have slept with a lot of guys in the industry'
Peaches Geldof cause of death: 'Heroin addict' socialite had taken fatal dose of drug, inquest concludes
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Pro-Russian rebel 'admits to shooting down plane'
Peaches Geldof inquest: Tragic final moments of socialite's life reveal she lied to husband about failed heroin tests
Israel-Gaza conflict: The myth of Hamas’s human shields
Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crash: 'Nine Britons, 23 Americans and 80 children' feared dead after Boeing passenger jet is 'shot down' near Ukraine-Russia border
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Vladimir Putin is given 'one last chance' to end hostilities in Ukraine
The 'scroungers’ fight back: The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Ukrainian military jet was flying close to passenger plane before it was shot down, says Russian officer
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Massive rise in sale of British arms to Russia
£35000 - £45000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: If you're pa...
£45000 - £55000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP Business...
£40000 - £60000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client, a...
£45000 - £55000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: SAP Functional ...