A record year for inbound tourism to the UK is being forecast for 2020.

Spending by overseas visitors is predicted by VistBritain to rise by 6.6% to reach a record £26.6 billion next year against £25 billion projected for 2019.

The number of overseas visits to the UK is expected to grow to a record 39.7 million – up 2.9% on 2019’s expected figure of 38.5 million.

Inbound tourism numbers to the UK have grown 33% and spending by 58% in the last decade.

Data from ForwardKeys shows that forward flight bookings to the UK from December 2019 to May 2020 are up 5% compared to the same period last year. Forward bookings to the UK from China and South Asia are particularly strong, up 33% and 22% respectively.

Work to embed the Tourism Sector Deal, announced by the government in June, is set to drive major investment and economic delivery, addressing issues from skills and productivity to building stronger tourism destinations.

VisitBritain is promoting the UK globally via a campaign telling the story of people and places and encouraging visitors to travel further.

The national tourism agency is also working with the tourism industry to inform European visitors about the practicalities of travel and to encourage visits post-Brexit.

VisitBritain director Patricia Yates said: “Tourism is one of the UK’s most valuable export industries and these results show our continued ability to attract international visitors in a fiercely competitive global market.

“We are seeing success in growing tourism from our long-haul, high-spending markets including the US, our largest and most valuable inbound market, and from markets that are crucial for our future such as China.

“Working with partners globally we are telling customers about experiences they can only have here, converting the inspiration to visit into bookings and driving growth from tourism across the nations and regions, boosting local economies.”