Today’s figures from the Office for National Statistics show that from January to November 2016 the UK saw 34.5 million visits, up 3% on the same period in 2015 with visitors spending £20.4 billion, up 1%.
Strong growth was seen in November last year from North America (Canada and the US – the latter Britain’s most valuable tourism source market) with 300,000 visits, up 28% compared to November 2015. It brings total visits from North America for January to November 2016 to 4 million, up 6% on 2015.
There were 23.3 million visits from the EU for January to November 2016, up 4% on the same period in 2015.
Tourism Minister Tracey Crouch said: “Our tourism industry is booming as Britain cements its reputation as one of the world’s must-visit destinations. I am particularly pleased that there are an increasing number of visits from important markets like the US, with tourism making a significant contribution to our economy. We are committed to helping the sector grow even further, so the benefits are spread far and wide across the country.”
VisitBritain Chief Executive Sally Balcombe said: “These figures demonstrate our tourism industry’s crucial role in showing that our nation is welcoming and open for business, and its increasing importance as a driver of economic growth.
“We are seeing success in growing tourism from our high value markets including the US and we are competing strongly in Europe. We are seizing the opportunity to build on this, promoting a message of value, welcome and showcasing the amazing experiences that visitors can only get here.”
Inbound tourism forecast for 2017
VisitBritain’s forecast for 2017 shows that overall inbound tourism growth is set to continue with 38.1 million visits, up 4% on 2016 which is likely to see about 36.7 million visits by year end.
Spending by overseas visitors is predicted to reach £24.1 billion in 2017, an 8% increase on spending last year which is expected to top out at £22.3 billion.
Latest flight booking data shows that flight bookings to the UK are up 10% for January to March compared to the same period last year.
Tourism is Britain’s seventh largest export industry and third largest service sector. It is worth £127 billion annually to the UK economy, creating jobs and boosting economic growth across its nations and regions.