Overseas tourists flocking to UK cities

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The Independent Travel

Britain's big industrial towns are becoming tourist magnets for overseas visitors, according to a survey today.

London and Edinburgh top the list of UK cities most visited by overnight-staying foreign residents.

But Manchester, Birmingham and Glasgow are also proving popular destinations, according to figures today from the VisitBritain organisation.

Based on average annual figures for city visits from 2006 to 2009, the statistics showed that London receives just under 15 million overnight-stay visits from overseas residents a year.

Edinburgh has 1.3 million visits, with Manchester just under 900,000, Birmingham 737,000 and Glasgow 687,000.

For visits purely for holiday purposes, London is again top with an annual average of 6.65 million overnight-stay visits, followed by Edinburgh with 771,000, Glasgow with 312,000, Inverness with 180,000 and Liverpool with 162,000.

For business trips, London is top with 3,2 million visits, followed by Birmingham with 380,000 and Manchester with 338,000.

VisitBritain also published a who-goes-where guide to UK cities, which showed:

:: The London market is dominated by Americans, French and Germans, with the Germans also favouring Southampton, Canterbury and Brighton;

:: Plymouth attracts more visits from the French than from any other nation, while the USA is Bath's biggest market;

:: Birmingham's biggest market is Ireland, followed by Poland;

:: French and Irish visitors are the most frequent in Cardiff and Swansea.

VisitBritain strategy and communications director Patricia Yates said: "This survey confirms an astonishing transformation of our industrial heartlands has taken place. They have become dynamic, stylish international destinations that are increasingly beloved of foreign visitors.

"Manchester has become the home of Brit Cool, Birmingham wows people with its world-class cultural scene, Liverpool pulsates as the home of the Beatles and Liverpool football club, and Glasgow with its unique architecture, countryside and coastal views has become Scotland's style capital."

VisitBritain based its figures on Office for National Statistics' international passenger survey figures in which around 200,000 travellers were questioned between 2006 and 2009.