The figures, which also outlined that spending during 2017 is expected to increase 14% year on year to £25.7m, were announced in the VisitBritain/VisitEngland annual review.
Brits are also taking more holidays at home, with the number of domestic overnight holidays in England having risen 7% to a record 20.4m from January to June, with spending up 17% to £4.6b.
The review also highlighted that an extra £872m in visitor spending was generated across the UK in the last year as a result of work undertaken by VisitBritain/VisitEngland.
John Glen, minister for tourism, said that the record-breaking figures was "testament to our world-class attractions and the innovation of our tourism industry".
He added: "Internationally we are performing strongly in a hugely competitive market and I will continue to work closely with the sector to maintain growth, get the best possible deal as we exit the EU and retain the UK's position as the must-visit destination."
British Tourist Authority chairman Steve Ridgway, who is also leading the tourism industry's bid for a sector deal under the UK Government's Industrial Strategy, said: "Tourism is an economic powerhouse, worth £127b annually to the economy and a job creator right across Britain. Two and a half times bigger than the automotive industry, employing three million, tourism is one of our most successful exports and needs no trade deals to compete globally.
Ridgway explained that with a sector deal, the UK tourism industry had the potential to more than double in value to £268b within a decade and increase employment to 3.8 million.
The tourism sector deal bid, now submitted to the government for negotiation, outlines four priorities:
•A 10-year tourism and hospitality skills campaign to boost recruitment, skills and long-term careers;
•Boosting productivity by extending the tourism season year-round and increasing global market share in the business visits and events sector;
•Improving connections to increase inbound visits from more markets by 2030;
•Creating 'tourism zones' to build quality tourism products that meet visitors needs and expectations and fixing localised transport issues to improve the visitor experience.
VisitBritain and VisitEngland report record tourism growth >>
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