Figures released today by the Office of National Statistics revealed that overseas visitors spent £19.3 billion in Britain during January to November 2013, a 12% year-on-year increase on the same period in 2012 and 4% more than any previous full calendar year.
Spend in November was up 11% compared to November 2012, and if December 2013 spend reaches £700m, full year tourism spend will hit £20bn.
Britain also saw record-breaking holiday visitor numbers in January to November 2013, with 12.02 million visiting for a holiday, compared to the previous 12 month record of 12.01 million in 2011.
Total visits to Britain were up 5% year-on-year in the first 11 months of the year, hitting 30.2m, with business visits and visits to friends and relatives at their highest levels since 2008 and up 5% and 4% on respectively on the same period last year.
Visits from outside Europe and North America hit 4.86 million in January to November 2013, compared to 4.74m in the 12 months of 2012.
Commenting on the impressive results, Sandie Dawe, chief executive of VisitBritain, said: “For 2013 to be the best year in inbound history, we’d need to see a record December for visits too, but it’s a certainty we’ll see record levels for spend.”
She added that the record-breaking spend in the first 11 months of 2013 was proof that VisitBritain’s GREAT campaign was encouraging people to visit the UK.
“These visitors are clearly happy to spend their money across the whole of the country and VisitBritain’s partner marketing activity has enabled them to do this by offering good value deals - inspiring travel to Britain in record numbers,” she said.
The GREAT campaign, which aims to build awareness of Britain as an attractive tourism destination, is now in its third year.
The government announced in December 2013 that it would commit a further £90 million to the campaign over the next two years, with £45m allocated in 2014/15 and £45m in 2015/16.
On the back of this investment, VisitBritain has predicted there will be a 2% increase in overseas visitors this year, with visitor spend set to hit around £21.5 billion. Visitor numbers are expected to return to the levels experienced before the financial crisis hit in 2008, with 32.6m arrivals forecast for 2014.