American travellers - traditionally the biggest of spenders while abroad - provided a welcome boost to UK tourism this summer, it was revealed today.

North American residents made 460,000 visits to the UK in August 2009 - a big increase on the August 2008 figure of 376,000, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) announced.



The presence of the Americans boosted overseas residents' spending in the UK which rose from £1.90bn in August 2008 to £2.05bn in August 2009.



But despite the influx of US and Canadian visitors, overall foreign resident numbers fell from 3.43 million in August 2008 to 3.16 million in August this year.



At 20.38 million, the number of foreign visits to the UK for the first eight months of this year is down 9 per cent compared with the January-August 2008 period.



Spending by foreign residents during their visits to the UK in the first eight months of this year is only down, though, by 1 per cent at £10.93bn.



The recession is having an even more marked effect on the numbers of UK residents travelling abroad and the amount they spend while away.



UK residents made 40.68 million visits abroad in the first eight months of this year - 16 per cent down on the same period last year - while their spending dipped 19 per cent to £21.05bn.



While UK residents made 8.57 million trips abroad in August 2008, they made only 7.61 overseas visits in August 2009. Their spending fell from £4.94bn in August 2008 to £3.88bn in August 2009.

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