The Queen's Jubilee celebrations and the 2012 London Olympic Games have helped the UK tourism industry to contribute nearly £19b towards the British economy in 2012, according to VisitBritain.
The tourism body's annual review has revealed that over the past 12 months Britain has welcomed a record number of holidaymakers from overseas, with around 12 million international visitors having come into the country.
Inbound tourism is Britain's third biggest earner of foreign exchange and during the past year it has contributed £18.7b to the economy, a 5% rise in nominal terms and a record, VisitBritain said.
International tourism has increased by 3% in volume and 8% in value since May 2010, with the number of people visiting Britain set to pass the one billion mark for the first time this year. VisitBritain expects that inbound tourism in 2012 will show growth in the value of visits by up to 6%.
Looking ahead, VisitBritain estimates that the volume of international tourism to Britain will grow by 3% in 2013, meaning almost one million extra visitors, with spend forecast to reach £19b for the first time, representing growth of 2.5%.
Chairman of VisitBritain, Christopher Rodrigues, said: "2012 has shown just what Britain can offer. It has re-energised our image overseas and triggered the desire to visit our country.
"Our job now is to turn aspiration into action. And the best way to do that is to continue the exceptional levels of collaboration between the industry, the public sector and the Government that we saw in 2012. We also need to keep the extraordinary spirit of the Games Makers alive in our visitor welcome."
By Kerstin Kühn
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