The number of visits made by overseas residents to the UK in July this year rose 5% compared with July 2009, official figures showed today.

But the number of trips taken abroad by UK citizens fell slightly in July 2010, with visits to North America dropping sharply, according to the Office for National Statistics.

Foreign residents made 3.24 million visits to the UK in July 2010 compared with just under 3.09 million in July 2009.

This took the January-July total to 16.87 million - a 2% fall on the figure for the first seven months of 2009.

Spending by overseas residents while on their trips to the UK rose 16% - from just under £1.69 billion in July 2009 to £1.96 billion in July 2010.

Foreign visitor spending for the first seven months of this year was £9.23 billion - a 2% rise on the January-July 2009 total.

UK residents made 5.75 million trips overseas in July 2010 compared with 5.84 million in July last year.

Visits to North America dipped from 322,000 in July 2009 to 260,000 in July this year, with trips to the region by UK residents down by 12% for the year so far (January to July).

Overall, UK residents made 30.39 million visits abroad in the first seven months of this year - 8% fewer than in January-July 2009.

While abroad, UK residents spent 17.33 billion in January-July 2010 - a 4% fall on the first seven months of last year. July 2010 spending - at £3.27 billion - was fractionally down on the July 2009 total of £3.28 billion.

The July 2010 increase in overseas visitors followed rises in May and June this year, which halted falls in visits earlier in 2010.

VisitBritain chief executive Sandie Dawe said today: "These new figures confirm that international tourism to Britain is continuing to recover.

"Although major challenges remain, and there is some way to go before we reach the record numbers of visits seen back in 2007, it is particularly encouraging to see that inbound holiday tourism began to grow again in the past three months."

She went on: "The highly attractive exchange rate for sterling is a key factor behind this trend because it is making the UK very affordable for European and US travellers.

"It has now become well established that the value of spending by foreign visitors is growing at a faster rate than the volume of visitors, because the good rate tourists are getting is enabling them to spend more when they get here."