Eight million overseas travellers visited the UK during July to September, an increase of 1% on the previous quarter and 10% of the same period last year, official figures reveal.
Spending by foreign tourists increased 13% on the third quarter of 2005, to £3.9b, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
The study also shows that visits by foreign tourists to the UK for the 12 months to September 2006 rose by 6%, from 29.7 million to 31.6 million.
The number of visits from North American tourists showed an increase of 6% (to 4.5 million), while 5% more Western Europeans (20.2 million), and 10% more travellers from other parts of the world (6.9 million) came to the UK.
Visits overseas by UK residents fell by 5% to 16.5 million when compared with the previous three months, but remained broadly the same when compared with the same period a year ago.
Tim Helliwell, relationship director at the hotels team at Barclays, said the figures point to a UK hospitality industry "in good health".
"The capital's hotels in particular are currently operating nigh-on capacity, benefiting both from the City's strength and London's continued allure for leisure travellers," he said.
"There are indications that the recent troubles in the Lebanon have diverted Middle Eastern visitors to London away from Beirut."
But Helliwell warned that operators should bear in mind that the third quarter last year was affected by the London bombings, so direct comparisons should be "made with care".
By Daniel Thomas
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