The number of inbound passengers to the UK has declined 2% year on year in May 2017, according to the British Hospitality Association's (BHA) travel monitor.
This is a significant slowdown in growth compared to the 28% rise of inbound tourists to the UK in the first four months of 2017.
Inbound passenger numbers were also down versus May 2015, driven by a 10% decline in passengers from Europe, which the BHA suggests could be a short-term impact of the recent terror attacks in London and Manchester.
The travel monitor showed a decline in European visitors was partially offset by robust growth from North America, up 35%. The differentiation in inbound tourism growth from the two continents could show long-haul travel holding up better in the wake of the terrorist incidents, due to the longer booking period.
Despite the fall in visitor numbers, overall UK spend by overseas residents grew 5%, likely due to growth of inbound tourism from North America.
Ufi Ibrahim, chief executive of the BHA said: "Our analysis has shown that while inbound tourism has grown significantly, there may be a short-term drop due to the tragic terrorist incidents earlier this year. With political and economic uncertainty increasing it is more important than ever to ensure UK tourism can compete. The UK continues to have on average twice the tourism VAT rate across Europe. Alongside businesses investing in the apprenticeship levy, the national living wage and rising business rates, this signals concern for businesses in the industry, four out of five of which are SMEs."
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