Last year set a new record for inbound tourism, according to figures released today.
The International Passenger Survey figures found that inbound visits were up 6% at 34.8 million. Those visitors spent £21.7b, up 3% in 2014.
North American tourists, the most valuable market to the UK, saw annual growth of 4% to 3.7 million visits. VisitBritain, which is running a Countryside is GREAT campaign in the US, said that with the pound strengthening against the dollar there was potential for further growth.
Visits from the high volume EU15 markets saw a 7% annual increase, beating the previous 2007 record by more than one million visits.
VisitBritain chief executive Sally Balcombe said: "Inbound tourism is increasing year-after-year, with Britain now achieving its second consecutive annual record, with further growth forecast for 2015.
"The marketplace for global tourism is getting tougher, but the government's GREAT campaign and VisitBritain's successful global marketing activity has meant that tourism is increasingly becoming an essential part of the wider success of our economy. Such positive growth from North America is very encouraging and we will look to boost this further with our 2015 Countryside is GREAT campaign, sending all these valuable visitors across the nations and regions of Britain."
Tourism minister Helen Grant added: "I am delighted that tourists from overseas are coming to our country in record numbers, spending more and enjoying the very best of Britain. It confirms that our tourism strategy is working and highlights the important role the industry plays in the government's long-term economic plan. I will continue to work hard with the sector to encourage tourists to visit all parts of the country to further boost local growth and jobs."