Holiday visits were up 12 per cent, and earnings from inbound tourism were also on the rise, up 7 per cent over the past year.
According to VisitBritain, this was the strongest first half of the year in history for inbound British tourism.
In June alone the UK received a record number of visits from overseas at 3.18m, up 10 per cent from June 2013. Spending by those visitors was also up 4 per cent in the same month, reaching a record of £1.97bn.
Spending remained stable between the first half of 2013 and the same period in 2014.
Holiday v. business
The holiday segment represented for 44 per cent (1.4m) of visits in June. This is the fifth monthly record for holiday visits so far this year.
Business visits were also on the up in June at up 6 per cent, compared to the same month last year. Looking at the 12 months to June 2014, there has been a 5 per cent rise in business visits, though levels are still lower than in 2008.
Britain had 10 per cent more visits from EU15 countries than in the first six months of 2013, setting another June record of 1.78m. There was also a record number of visits from the non-EU European regions in June, up 28 per cent, while year-to-date figures show a 20 per cent rise compared to the same time in 2013.
Visits from the rest of the world (Asia Pacific, Middle East, Latin America and Africa) were in line with June last year, but are 2 per cent higher over the first six months of this year compared to 2013.
David Edwards, head of research and forecasting at VisitBritain, said: “Tourism is an essential part of the wider success of our economy and these first six months have set us up for what could be another record year for inbound tourism.
“It’s also hugely positive to see growth both from our high volume European markets and also emerging markets across Asia and Latin America.”
Mike Saul, head of hospitality and leisure at Barclays, added: “The UK’s fine heritage, world-leading attractions and vibrant retail offering continue to attract increasing numbers of overseas visitors.
“Wealthy consumers from emerging economies such as Asia and the Middle East together with visitors from the three highest-spending countries, the USA, France and Germany, are driving growth in visits and spend from overseas.
“With industry leaders signalling increased marketing spend this year at the expense of more aggressive pricing, the industry is currently experiencing an upturn in fortunes.”