UK tourism is booming, with inbound visits reaching a record high of 7.36 million for the first quarter of 2016, according to figures released by the Office of National Statistics (ONS).
Inbound tourism, which is estimated to contribute in excess of £26b a year to the UK economy, seems set to produce its seventh consecutive year of growth. Last year saw record-breaking growth in both the number of overseas visitors and spend, clocking up 36.1 million visits and £22.1b in spending, up 5% and 1% respectively on 2014. Visitor numbers have increased more than 20% since 2010.
VisitBritain director Patricia Yates hailed the 2016 first quarter figures as a "tangible demonstration of the growing importance of inbound tourism to the UK economy".
Tourism minister David Evennett commented: "Our tourism industry is booming as our world-class attractions, heritage and culture make Britain the first choice destination for many, with visits at an all-time high. Tourism is making a massive contribution to our economy and we want to keep up this momentum."
January and February this year both set new records for monthly visitor numbers, up 6% and 8% respectively on 2015. Particularly strong growth from EU countries was in evidence during the first three months of this year, up 7% to 5.27 million visits. Visits from North America, one of the UK's most valuable inbound markets, also increased 7% in the period relative to 2015.
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