Inbound tourism grew for the sixth consecutive year in 2015, according to the new International Passenger Survey published by the Office for National Statistics. As a result, there were six million more visits in 2015 - an increase of 20% - compared with 2010.
Visitors' spend of £21.8b in the UK last year remained flat, in line with 2014's record-breaking figure. However, the amount visitors spent in December increased 1% year-on-year to £1.7b.
Patricia Yates, director of VisitBritain, said the growth was fantastic news for the UK economy and confirmed that the ambition to grow international visits by more than 20% to 42 million, with an additional £4.5b in visitor spend, was on track.
Visits from North America showed growth of 8% last year compared with 2014, with 3.9 million visits, while 2015 was a record year for visits from the high volume EU15 markets, with a 2% year-on-year increase to 19.9 million visits.
A record was also set for 5.6 million visits from the rest of the world, a 6% increase on 2014 figures.
With regards to the type of journeys made, record results were seen in the number of holiday visits to the UK with 13.7 million visits, 1% up on 2014, with a 7% increase to 10.5 million in those visiting friends and relatives.
Business trips increased by 6% to 8.7 million visits, while people coming for other reasons grew by 5% with 2.9 million visits.