There were 13.6 million visits abroad by UK residents in the first quarter of this year – up 2% year-on-year – according to the latest official statistics.
The updated figures from the Office for National Statistics also show that £8.5 billion was spent on these visits in the period from January to March, the same as the first three months of 2018.
The first quarter statistics reveal that outbound holiday visits remained the same year-on-year at 7.6 million; business visits fell by 10% to 1.5 million; and visits to friends and relatives increased by 10% to 4.2 million.
Looking at inbound travel for January to March, the ONS reported that there were 8 million visits to the UK, up 1% year-on-year, and overseas residents spent £4.3 billion – 5% less than the previous year.
Considering the reasons for visiting the UK, holiday visits increased by 9% to 2.7 million for this period; business visits decreased by 1% to 2.1 million; and visits to friends and relatives fell by 3% to 2.5 million.
Rich Aston, tourism director at accountancy firm KPMG, commented: “Unfortunately overseas spend in the UK showed a dramatic downturn as visitors spent 5% less than Q1 2018.
“This may be because the novelty of having a cheap pound is wearing off and overseas visitors no longer see the need to load up on luxury UK brands.
“For those UK holidaymakers who have decided not to venture further than British shores, the current heatwave is a bonus after a number of washout weekends across the country.
“Publicans, hoteliers and restaurateurs will be hoping that the sunshine will mean an increase in domestic spend.”