UK operator AC Group has claimed 41% overall growth in annual passengers last year at a time when overall inbound visitor growth remained in single figures.

However, tourists from the Netherlands dropped 8%, Germany by 20% and Ireland by 45% over 2017 levels.

By contrast the company saw strong increases from the US, Brazil, United Arab Emirates, France and Spain.

London was the top destination, with a 31% annual increase.

Sales and marketing efforts to promote areas outside the capital led to a rise in numbers to Edinburgh, Glasgow, Fort William and Inverness in Scotland in addition to Oxford, Liverpool and Bath.

AC Group has been developing broader international connections to make the business more robust during “tumultuous economic times”.

The firm expects growth in Asia in 2019 with its partnership with New Concept Travel, announced in December.

Co-CEO Malcolm Lindop said: “Traveller expectations are broadening as they seek real experiences on their travels through a full itinerary of locations, activities and hotels.

“There is a growing market of informed discerning travellers that are seeking a wider choice of product that give them stories to share on their return home.

“Real experiences and visiting destinations they see on Netflix or in movies are becoming a big selling point, and allows travellers to truly connect with the destination.”

Fellow co-CEO Rob Russell added: “Our product team work closely with regional and local businesses to include unusual attractions, unique accommodation and alternative activities from visiting distilleries to night fishing.

“The personal touch, delivered by our suppliers, is essential to providing memorable ‘experiential’ journeys that are so much more in demand from travellers from across the USA, Europe, Middle East and Brazil.”