Another record year for UK tourism

By Carina Perkins contact

- Last updated on GMT

The UK achieved its second consecutive annual record for tourism volume and spend in 2014
The UK achieved its second consecutive annual record for tourism volume and spend in 2014

Related tags: Cent increase, Tourism

2014 was another record breaking year for UK tourism, with both spend and visits reaching their highest levels to date.

According to the latest International Passenger Survey figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), inbound visits to England rose 6 per cent year on year to 34.8m in 2014.

Overseas visitors spent a total of £21.7bn in the UK last year, up 3 per cent on 2013 and a new record in both nominal and real terms.

EU15 visits rose 7 per cent year-on-year, beating the previous 2007 record by more than one million visits, while visits from the US were up 4 per cent to 3.7m, their highest level since 2008.

Holiday visits were up 8 per cent year-on-year to 13.7m, while business visits were at their highest since 2007, growing by 5 per cent to 8.4m.

Sally Balcombe, chief executive at VisitBritain said: “Inbound tourism is increasing year-after-year, with Britain now achieving its second consecutive annual record, with further growth forecast for 2015."

Mike Saul, head of Hospitality and Leisure at Barclays, added: “The UK’s enduring appeal as a leading tourist destination doesn’t appear to be suffering from the strength of sterling with almost 2.5 million overseas visitors spending nearly £2 billion here in December 2014 alone. 

“With last year seeing a 7 per cent increase in visitors from Europe, and a 6 per cent increase in tourists generally, it chimes well with Barclays research forecasting overseas tourist spend in the UK to grow by 34 per cent to £27 billion by 2017.”

Tourism campaigns

VisitEngland recently launched its Countryside is GREAT campaign in a bid to promote tourism outside of London, and hopes this will attract further US spend in 2015.

“The marketplace for global tourism is getting tougher, but the Government’s GREAT campaign and VisitBritain’s successful global marketing activity has meant that tourism is increasingly becoming an essential part of the wider success of our economy,” Sally Balcombe, chief executive at VisitBritain.

“Such positive growth from North America is very encouraging and we will look to boost this further with our 2015 Countryside is GREAT campaign, sending all these valuable visitors across the nations and regions of Britain.” 

The VisitEngland campaign is part of the UK government's wider tourism strategy, which included the establishment of a Tourism Council​ last year to boost growth in the sector.

"I am delighted that tourists from overseas are coming to our country in record numbers, spending more and enjoying the very best of Britain," said UK minister for Tourism, Helen Grant.

"It confirms that our tourism strategy is working and highlights the important role the industry plays in the government's long-term economic plan. I will continue to work hard with the sector to encourage tourists to visit all parts of the country to further boost local growth and jobs."

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