Tourists stay away as recession bites

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The Independent Travel

Tourism took a battering from the recession last year, official figures showed today.

The number of visits made to the UK by overseas residents in 2009 fell to 29.57 million - a 7 per cent decline on the 2008 figure, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.

The dip in the number of visits made abroad by UK residents was even bigger - going down 15 per cent last year to 58.53 million.

The only good news for tourist chiefs was that despite the fall in numbers, overseas residents' spending in the UK last year, at £16.48 billion, was 1 per cent higher than in 2008.

In contrast, UK residents' spending while on trips abroad last year, at £31.85 billion, was 14 per cent down on the 2008 total.

The number of foreign residents' trips to the UK for holiday purposes actually rose 3 per cent last year, but the overall total was dragged down by the fact that business trips fell 20 per cent.

The number of overseas residents visiting friends or relatives (the "VFR" market) in the UK also fell last year - dipping 10 per cent.

The number of trips taken abroad for holidays by UK residents fell 16 per cent last year to 38.44 million, while business trips were down 22 per cent and VFR trips fell 7 per cent.

UK residents took 21 per cent fewer trips to North America last year and 15 per cent fewer trips to Europe.