Britain saw record tourism growth last year with 36.1 million inbound visits and spend of £22.1b, according to VisitBritain.
The figures, announced today (11 October) at the launch of VisitBritain and VisitEngland’s 2015-16 annual review, come on the back of an inbound tourism bounce in July with more visits than ever before, up 2% to 3.8 million compared to the same month last year, with spend up 4% to £2.5b. Domestic visitors also spent more in England last year than ever before, with £19.6 spent by Brits on overnight trips, up 8% on 2014.
Last year visitors from the US, Britain’s most valuable source market, spent £3b in Britain for the first time, and visits from China, the world’s largest outbound market, increased by 46%, with spend up 18%. This moved China into Britain’s top 10 most valuable markets, while flight booking data from ForwardKeys showed that bookings from China to the UK were up 24% for October to December.
International visitors spent an extra £800m across the nations and regions of Britain in the last year as a result of work by VisitBritain, according to the review, suggesting every £1 invested in VisitBritain’s activities resulted in an overseas visitor spending £23 in Britain. Domestic visitors also apparently spent an additional £97.2m in England as a result of VisitEngland’s 2015 ‘Holidays at Home are GREAT’ campaign.
British Tourist Authority chairman Christopher Rodrigues said VisitBritain/VisitEngland was in “pole position” to build on this growth and fulfil its government remit of growing the value of inbound tourism to the nations and regions.
He continued: “As our fourth biggest service export, and one of our fastest growing sectors, tourism’s importance as a key economic driver and job creator is clear. While the talk is of trade deals with new markets, tourism is already leading the way.
“Once again we have shown our ability to build great partnerships, leveraging private sector money to amplify our message and convert the aspiration to travel into bookings. We have received £12.7m cash and in-kind for our international marketing, working with commercial partners including Expedia, Hainan Airlines, STA Travel and British Airways and a further £2m in-kind from trade partners for Holidays at Home are GREAT.”
Tourism Minister Tracey Crouch added: “These amazing figures show that Britain continues to be a world-class visitor destination. Together with VisitBritain/VisitEngland, our tourism strategy is working and it is fantastic news that so many overseas and domestic visitors are exploring the stunning countryside, historic buildings and vibrant culture that our country has to offer.”
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