Visits from China leaped by 37% during the first nine months of 2015, according to new figures from VisitBritain.
A total of 214,000 visits from China took place between January and September, beating the total number of visits for all of 2014. Spend was up 4% during the same period to £435m.
The new visitor visa pilot scheme for Chinese nationals introduced earlier this month by the Government are expected to boost visitor numbers further. Chinese visitors are already some of the highest overseas spenders, spending an average of £2,688 a head. VisitBritain has ambitions to double spend from Chinese visitors to £1b by 2020.
Visitor numbers from China will rise in the coming weeks with Chinese New Year celebrations on 8 February, a prime time for Chinese travel.
Patricia Yates, director of VisitBritain, said: "China is the world's largest outbound market and a huge tourism opportunity for Britain. Chinese New Year is traditionally one of the busiest travel times for Chinese travellers and we want Britain to be at the top of their list as a must-go now destination."
VisitBritain's latest figures from the International Passenger Survey also showed strong growth from the USA in 2015, the UK's most valuable market, with visits up 7% during the first nine months of the year to 2.6million, the best figures since 2007.
Growth was also seen in visits from Germany, up 1% to 2.6 million from January to September last year, while the number of visits from France, the UK's largest market by volume, was on par with 2014's record result so far at 3.2 million. Spending by visitors from France was up 9% to £1.2b, overtaking Germany as the UK's second largest market by value to date.