A record-breaking 37 million foreign visitors came to the UK during 2016, a rise of 4% on the previous year.
There was a particular strong 8% surge in visitor numbers during the final three months of the year, according to figures from the Office of National Statistics.
London led the way in welcoming tourists and business travellers by attracting 19.1m overnight visits.
Overseas residents spent £22.5b on visits to the UK in 2016, an increase of 2% compared with 2015. Tourists from the US spent more in the UK than residents from any other country, a total of £3.4b, which was an increase of 11% on 2015.
Hasnain Alloo, commercial director of Edwardian Hotels London, which owns and operates 11 Radisson Blu Edwardian London hotels, said he expected that the good news for British tourism will keep on coming this year. The group recorded a 14.5% increase in US guests during the the first first quarter of 2017.
“We all know how unique 2016 was, with Brexit dominating all year and pushing the value of the pound down to its lowest level for more than three decades,” he said. “Tourism was the shining beacon of hope for British business throughout 2016, with a record number of tourists visiting our shores to spend money in our hotels, restaurants and shops.
“What’s exciting for Edwardian Hotels London is the record number of tourists visiting from USA and China last year – key growth markets for our company.
“At the same time, we can’t forget our European neighbours. Edwardian Hotels London welcomed nearly 30,000 guests from Germany, France and Sweden last year, and so we hope that whatever deal the UK negotiates as part of Brexit, tourists from these key markets can continue to visit us quickly and easily in the future.”