British tourism office VisitBritain has welcomed results from the Office of National Statistics, which today showed that inbound tourism grew significantly across Britain in 2013.
Overall, inbound visitor numbers increased by 5.6% in 2013 compared to 2012, with 32.8m in total visiting London, the rest of England, Scotland and Wales.
Of the regions, Scotland saw the biggest percentage increase, up 9.8% to 2.4m visitors, closely followed by London, where visitor numbers increased by 8.6% to 16.8m. The rest of England received 13.6m visitors (a 6.1% increase), while Wales had 900,000 visitors (up 3.5%).
While business visits were at 7.9m (down from the peak of nine million in 2006), holiday visits were at a record high, up to 12.7m this year.
The increases also sparked a significant rise in visitor spend, with Scotland seeing nearly a fifth more spend than last year (up 19.9% to £1.7b), followed by the rest of England (up 15.4% to £7.1b), London (up 11.7% to £11.3b) and Wales (up 2% to £0.4b). Total visitor spend was at £21b.
Christopher Rodrigues, chairman of VisitBritain, said the tourist board was delighted with the results, and that 2013 had been a key post-Olympic year.
He said: "These strong results underpin the forecast that inbound tourism will continue to grow by over 6% a year across the rest of this decade. Tourism is, and always will be, a major part of the British economy."
Mike Saul, head of hospitality and leisure at Barclays Bank also welcomed the results. He said: "Today's figures continue to underline the UK's position as a world-class destination for overseas visitors. While tourists from the USA, France and Germany will continue to be the highest spenders, visitors from China, UAE and Russia will outstrip them in growth terms."
He also said that new Barclays research had forecast tourist spend in the UK to grow by 34% to £27m by 2017.
The results come in light of VisitBritain's own research which in 2012 predicted record visits in 2013. Similarly, in Feburary of this year, the tourist board hailed its GREAT Britain campaign a success after the ONS first calculated a record spend for 2013 inbound visitor numbers.