Britain’s tourism and hospitality businesses are surfing on the wave of a record-breaking 2011 for overseas visitors and spending, making perfect preparation for a bumper 2012, packed full of iconic, once-in-a-lifetime events.
According to national tourism agency VisitBritain, last year saw a record number of tourists flock to the UK, with an overall increase of 800,000 overseas visitors, up three per cent on 2010. The year also saw levels of tourist spending up five per cent to £17.8bn.
“As we look back on a positive 2011 for both holiday visits and spend, we want to make sure we capitalise on these gains by helping boost jobs across the country and create a lasting tourism legacy for many years to come,” said Patricia Yates, VisitBritain’s director of strategy and communications.
“We have had three straight years of declining arrival figures, so for 2011 to show a return to growth, with 800,000 more overseas visitors coming to Britain than was the case in 2010. These visitors spent almost £18bn while they were here in Britain, which is a five per cent increase and a record contribution to the UK economy.
“For the very first time we welcomed around 12 million holiday visitors to the UK and we are encouraged that the along with vital long-term growth markets helping our positive return, that the number of visitors coming to Britain from North America has risen. This is significant as we earn very nearly twice as from US visitors than we do from any other source market.”
The Best of Britain
While 2011 saw record levels of holidays visits, there has also been a welcome improvement in business travel on the previous year with arrivals up six per cent. The current global – and in particular European - economic outlook will likely impact this area over the course of 2012.
VisitBritain recently partnered with Samsung to launch ‘The Best of Britain’ mobile app in a bid to encourage more visitors to the country.
And, with this year bringing the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, and the London 2012 Festival, Britain’s hospitality business could be set to thrive on another record-breaking year.