Visitor numbers from the UK to the US fell 1% to 3.9 million in 2010 but the destination is expecting an increase this year to take it past the 4 million mark.

The small decline is being regarded as a reasonable result by the Visit USA Association, coming as it did against a backdrop of the ash cloud, strikes, the Gulf of Mexico oil spill and snow disruption.

Speaking at the association’s general meeting in London on Thursday, chair Kate Burgess-Craddy said: “We were looking really good [to achieve growth] until the end of the year, when the snow hit in December and travel fell sharply.”

Despite ongoing financial uncertainty and a slowdown in overall travel bookings in March after a strong start to the year, visitor numbers are forecast to increase by 5% to 4.1 million in 2011.

Burgess-Craddy said Visit USA was hoping for investment in the UK market by the recently formed Corporation for Travel Promotion, but admitted a delay in appointing a chief executive in the US was holding up the process of developing a global strategy and allocating funds.