The number of foreign tourists visiting Britain in the first three months of this year was 13 per cent lower than in 2008, and Britons made 19 per cent fewer trips abroad, official data showed today.
Foreign residents made 6.28 million visits to Britain between January and March, down from 7.19 million last year, with the biggest decline in the number of visitors from North America and eastern Europe.
Despite anecdotal reports of European shoppers taking advantage of the strong euro to pick up bargains in Britain, there were 10 per cent fewer visits from the European Union.
Overall, visitors spent £3.13 billion, virtually unchanged from last year despite the fact that sterling has lost around a fifth of its value against major currencies over the period.
Britons spent £6.76 billion on trips abroad, 13 percent less than last year, cutting visits to North America most sharply.