Pound’s slump fails to deter outbound travellers, but US visits down

The fall in the value if the pound failed to deter outbound travel from the UK in the first three months of the year.

UK residents made 14.1 million visits abroad, a rise of 8.1% on the same first quarter in 2016. Spending rose by 11.7% to 8.6 billion from £7.7 billion.

However, visits to North America fell by 4.1% year-on-year, with spending down by 1.5% according to the Office for National Statistics.

Visits to “other countries” – those outside Europe and North America – saw the largest increase, of 12.4% to 2.9 million. Visits to Europe rose by 7.8%.

Holiday visits continued to be the most common reason for UK residents’ visits abroad. Britons took 7.6 million holiday trips, an increase of 5.6% compared with the same quarter a year ago.

Visits to friends or relatives increased by 13.4%, miscellaneous visits also increased by 13.4%, and business visits increased by 6%. UK travellers spent 147 million nights abroad, an increase of 9.1%.

Meanwhile, the number of foreign visitors to the UK rose by 9.9% to a record 8.3 million spending £4.4 billion, although the number of business travellers declined by 1.8%.

Arrivals from North America and Europe increased by 18.7% and 7% respectively, while visits from other countries rose by 21.8%.

The UK saw a record 54,000 visits from China from January to March, up 27% year-on-year, with spending up 27% to £91 million.

An estimated total of 54 million nights were spent in the UK by overseas residents, an increase of 5.8%.

VisitBritain Director Patricia Yates said: “It is very encouraging to see such strong growth from some of our largest and most valuable markets, including France and the US, as well as markets that are important for our future, such as China.

“With forward-bookings for international arrivals tracking ahead for the coming months, we are anticipating a strong summer holiday season as we promote the message of value and welcome globally, showing people why they should book a holiday to Britain right now.”

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