Record numbers of tourists visited UK in 2016

The US is Britain’s most valuable tourism source market, with 4.3 million visits recorded in 2016, up 7 per cent on the previous year

Josie Co
Business Editor
@JosieCox_London
Friday 17 February 2017 11:57
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37.3 million inbound visits were recorded to the UK in 2016, up 3 per cent on 2015
37.3 million inbound visits were recorded to the UK in 2016, up 3 per cent on 2015

More overseas visitors came to the UK last year than ever before.

According to official figures out Friday, 37.3 million inbound visits to the UK were recorded in 2016, up 3 per cent on 2015, with visitors spending a total of £22.2bn, in line with what they spent in 2015.

Visit Britain, the body funded by the Department for Culture, Media & Sport which produced the data, said that North America, Canada and the US particularly drove figures.

The US, it said, is Britain’s most valuable tourism source market, with 4.3 million visits recorded in 2016, up 7 per cent on the previous year.

A total of 25.3 million visits were recorded from the EU in 2016, up 4 per cent on 2015. Last year’s overall figure marks a punchy 25 per cent increase on the level of inbound tourism recorded in 2010.

“The industry makes a significant contribution to our economy, and we will continue to support tourism to grow the sector further and promote the UK across the world,” sports and tourism minister Tracey Crouch said in a statement.

The figures mirror earlier data showing that the slump in the pound since Britain’s vote to the leave the European Union has enhanced the country’s appeal as a shopping destination.

Payment provider Worldpay in January said that spending by Chinese visitors had increased by 24 per cent year-on-year over the Christmas period, at least partially as a result of the fall in the pound.

“The strong growth in inbound visits demonstrates British tourism’s continued ability to compete for international visitors and deliver economic growth across our nations and regions,” VisitBritain chief executive Sally Balcombe said in a statement.

“We must seize the opportunity to build on this, boosting visitor spending by driving home the message of welcome and value particularly in our high spending markets such as China and the US and the valuable European market.”

Tourism is worth £127 billion annually to the UK economy, according to official figures.

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