Inbound sector reports record visitor numbers in 2016

A record year for inbound tourism to the UK in 2016 saw visitor numbers rise by 3% to 37.3 million.

However, spending was pegged at the 2015 level of £22.2 billion, new official figures reveal.

Strong growth was recorded from Canada and the US – the latter being Britain’s most valuable tourism source market, with 4.3 million visits, up 7% on 2015.

Visits from the EU rose by 4% year-on-year to 25.3 million.

Inbound visits to friends and relatives grew by 10% throughout 2016 to 11.5 million.

There were 7.5 million more visits in 2016 than 2010, an increase of 25%.

The figures show a boost in holiday visits to the UK at the end of 2016 with a record 3.2 million visits from October to December, up 11% on the same period in 2015.

Latest booking data shows that 2017 is off to a strong start with flight bookings to the UK up 16% for February to April compared to the same period last year.

Tourism minister Tracey Crouch said: “As these record-breaking figures show, the UK is one of the world’s must-visit destinations.

“Our country has so much to offer tourists from home and abroad, from thriving cities to stunning scenery and renowned cultural attractions.

“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.”

VisitBritain chief executive Sally Balcombe addd: “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.

“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.”

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