Visits to the UK by overseas residents were up 7 per cent year to date (January to May), with holiday visits up 12 per cent (1.4m) and business trip up 4 per cent.
In the year to May 2014 the number of visits to the UK grew by 8 per cent (33.73m) and earnings from overseas visitors to the UK continued to rise (by 8 per cent at £20.97bn). However, international visitor spend declined by 9 per cent between March and May 2014.
These figures take the number of international visits to Britain for the first five months of this year up to a record 13.23m – a 7 per cent rise on the same period in 2013, while visitor spend dropped by 1 per cent at £6.95bn.
Visits from the EU15 market rose by 4 per cent year on year, while visits from areas outside of Europe and North America grew by 13 per cent to 480,000.
Patricia Yates, director of strategy and communications at VisitBritain said: “To have four months out of five reaching new records for holiday visits is a great achievement - and that’s even before we hit the seasonal summer months. These results highlight Britain’s strength as a year-round destination. If the rest of the year continues like this, 2014 is set to be another excellent year for inbound tourism to Britain.”
Mike Saul, head of hospitality and leisure at Barclays, added: “Growing visitor numbers and spend year on year continue to underline the UK’s position as a world-class destination for overseas tourists. With Barclays’ research forecasting overseas tourist spend in the UK set to grow by 34 per cent to £27 billion by 2017, optimism is beginning to return to the sector.”
London most visited city in 2014
London is expected to be the world’s top tourism destination for 2014 – for the third time in four years – according to the MasterCard Global Destinations Cities Index released yesterday.
Using data from 132 of the most visited cities around the world, the index found that London is projected to receive 18.7m international visitors in 2014 – 300,000 more than the 2013 top destination city, Bangkok.
MasterCard believes that this should translate into an injection of over £11bn for the capital in 2014.
London also retained its 2013 top position in terms of visitors spend which is estimated at an average of £1,387 per resident in 2014.
“The Index points to a continued strong demand and interest in air travel, both for business and personal travel,” said Ann Cairns, president of international markets, MasterCard. “For London in particular, being recognised once again for its place as the top destination will further boost this city’s ability to continue to be a global leader, whether through hosting events that shine a spotlight on this city and draw in further investment, or inspiring those within to drive economic growth.”
The rest of the top five is formed of Bangkok, Paris and Singapore and Dubai.