The amount spent by foreign tourists coming to the UK fell for the first time since 2003 between April and June this year, official figures revealed today.
The second quarter of 2007 saw 8.1 million visits by overseas residents, a drop of 3%, while the associated spending decreased by 3% to £3.9b, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.
However, looking at the 12 months ending June 2007, visits by overseas residents to the UK rose by 8% from 30.8 million to 33.2 million.
Visits from residents of Europe increased 8% (to 23.9 million), North America showed an increase of 5% (to 4.7 million) and visits from other parts of the world of 11% (to 4.7 million).
Tim Helliwell, head of hotel finance at Barclays Business Banking, said: "The strength of the dollar appears to be having an increasing impact on US tourists, with consecutive falls in the first two quarters of this year.
"Hoteliers won't be unduly worried by the overall slowdown in visitor growth, given the continuing strength of occupancy and revpar figures.
"However, there will be some concerns about the decrease in visitor spending, the first fall since Q2 2003. Given visitors' apparent reluctance to spend, operators may find it difficult to continue to sustain rate-driven growth," he added.
By Daniel Thomas