The number of international visitors to the UK has risen to 2.53 million for September, with record numbers for holiday visits (970,000), according to new figures released by VisitBritain.
The International Passenger Survey (IPS) found that the overall visitor arrival trend for 2011 remains buoyant and is on track to better 2010 numbers.
Despite relatively flat figures during the peak months of July and August, the latest data for inbound tourism has been bolstered by growth throughout the year.
A 1% rise in arrivals in September was driven by record 5% growth in holiday trips and an increase in arrivals from North America (up 22%).
Visitor spending also saw an increase of 7% on the low of September 2010, with £1.5b coming into the UK economy from overseas. Overall spend per visit is up 4% from the previous year, which has resulted in record earnings across Britain of £13.2b so far this year.
The positive figures were revealed in the same week that VisitBritain received £27m to conduct a major brand building campaign in key overseas markets. The national tourism agency will extend the GREAT brand over the next year, with an advertising campaign in major cities worldwide to help increase efforts to attract an even greater number of overseas visitors during the Olympic year and beyond.
Sandie Dawe, chief executive of VisitBritain, said the figures are an encouraging sign for Britain's tourism sector that can continue to grow over the next few years and which will be strengthened by the image boost that hosting next year's games will bring.
"The £27 million announced earlier this week is a welcome injection of extra funding and great news for tourism. It means we will be able to compete even more strongly on the world stage and will allow us to increase our efforts to attract an even greater number of overseas visitors," added Dawe.
Tourism is the fifth largest industry in the UK and is Britain's third largest earner of foreign exchange. VisitBritain believes tourism has the potential to be one of the five fastest-growing sectors of the UK economy in the years ahead, creating new jobs and economic growth.
By Janie Stamford
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