UK regions feel benefit of overseas visitor growth

By Carina Perkins contact

- Last updated on GMT

New data suggests more international tourists are starting to travel across the UK than ever before
New data suggests more international tourists are starting to travel across the UK than ever before

Related tags: Tourism

UK regions saw faster growth in overseas visits than London last year, although the capital enjoyed the biggest uplift in tourism spend, according to new analysis from VisitBritain.

The report, based on new figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), revealed that overseas tourist spend hit record levels across Wales, Scotland, London, East of England, the North West and the South East in the first nine months of 2014.

London saw the biggest growth in overseas tourism spend, which reached £8.9bn in the capital during January to September 2014 – the strongest nine-month period on record.

However, overseas visits to Wales, Scotland and Yorkshire grew at a faster rate than they did to the capital – up 14 per cent, 12 per cent and 12 per cent respectively year-on-year, compared to 6 per cent in London.

VisitBritain said these uplifts were likely to have been driven by Yorkshire’s hosting of the Tour de France Grand Départ in July, President Obama’s attendance at the NATO Summit in Newport in September and the 2014 UEFA Super Cup in Cardiff in August.

Overseas visits to Scotland were boosted by the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in August and the Ryder Cup at Gleneagles in September.

Looking at tourism across Britain, the report revealed that there were 'strong uplifts' in visits from Europe, the US and Australia in the first nine months of 2014. There were 2.4m visits from the US, with spend up 14 per cent year-on-year to £2.3bn and the average length of stay by US visitors increasing from 8 nights in 2013 to 9.3 nights.

Visits from Spain increased by 11 per cent to 1.4m, with spend up 17 per cent to £747, while visits from France increased by 2 per cent to 3.1m. Tourism from Germany hit record levels - with volumes up 10 per cent to 2.7m and spent hitting a high of £1.2bn.

2015 growth

VisitBritain predicts that 2015 will be another record year​ for the UK’s hospitality and tourism industry, with overseas spend set to hit £22bn for the first time.

The government is planning a number of campaigns to ensure the benefits of this record spend are felt by hospitality and tourism businesses across the whole of the UK - including a £3m Countryside is GREAT campaign to promote the UK countryside, and £4m of advertising space at Heathrow airport to promote travel on from London.

Patricia Yates, director of Strategy and Communications at VisitBritain, said: ​Inbound tourism is an export industry at which Britain is demonstrably successful, with further growth predicted this year.

“VisitBritain will continue to focus on the rebalancing of this growing industry in 2015 to benefit the whole country.”

Tourism Minister Helen Grant said: "Britain has so much to offer tourists and it's fantastic that more of them are exploring the country and helping to drive growth outside of London.

“I want overseas visitors to experience the very best of Britain and with a record £22 billion expected to be spent this year the tourism sector is well placed to keep up this momentum, as part of the Government's long-term economic plan."

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