Britain has benefited from a healthy increase in inbound tourism over the first four months of the year, at a traditionally quiet time for visits from overseas.
That's the news from the latest figures from the International Passenger Survey, covering April 2012.
Arrival figures jumped 10% in April 2012, compared with the same month in the year before, while the amount spent during these visits also rose by 10%.
In total, April saw a record 2.9 million visits from overseas, while spending amounted to £1.4b.
Taken together, the first four months of 2012 saw 9.3 million visits - a 6% increase compared with the same months in 2011, exceeding nine million for the first time since 2008.
Meanwhile, holiday visits were also up by 5% in April, meaning that there have now been 3.3 million holiday visits to Britain so far this year, which is 7% higher than at the same point in 2011.
The recent growth in visits has helped lift the provisional figures for the full year to April 2012 to 3%, taking the total tally to 31.2 million. Spending in the year to April 2012 totalled £18b, representing annual growth (before allowing for inflation) of 5%.
April 2012 saw record visits from the high-volume EU15 markets (Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden).
Commenting on the April IPS figures, Patricia Yates, director of strategy and communications at VisitBritain, said: "The first few months of the year are traditionally a quiet period for visits to the UK, so to see a record month like this with an increase of 10% in both visits and spend is encouraging.
"Our £25m GREAT image campaign has been running in key inbound markets around the world since February. That aims to entice a greater number of people to choose Britain for their next holiday and with the London 2012 Games on our horizons, we hope that these positive April figures are an early indication that our message is getting through."
By Neil Gerrard
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