Tourist visits to the UK hit an all-time high

By Helen Gilbert

- Last updated on GMT

Tourist visits to the UK hit an all-time high

Related tags: United kingdom, England

The number of people visiting Britain in the first three months of the year has hit a record high, latest figures from the Office of National Statistics have revealed. 

As many as 7.36m overseas trips were made to the UK during the first quarter of 2016 - up six per cent on the same period last year, the data showed.

Visits from North America, one of the UK’s most valuable inbound markets were up seven per cent and in March alone there was a 12 per cent rise in the number of journeys made, the International Passenger Survey, which has provided data since 1961, revealed.

EU countries also fuelled strong growth - a record 5.27m trips were completed over the first three months - up seven per cent on 2015 figures for the same period.

“These best-ever first quarter figures are a tangible demonstration of the growing importance of inbound tourism to the UK economy, as we continue to showcase globally why our nations and regions should top the list as must-see destinations,” VisitBritain director Patricia Yates said.

Despite the rise in tourists, overseas spend lagged behind 2015 levels for the first quarter of the year - visitors parted with £3.64bn , a drop of four per cent and in March alone they spent £1.28bn - nine per cent down on the 2015 period.

The findings also showed that a record 31.5m Great Britain residents and international tourists visited London in 2015 – an increase of 20 per cent on 2010 figures.

Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan said: “It is fantastic that more people than ever before are opting to visit London, to sample the best of our capital and the best of Britain. London has something for everyone and an appeal that clearly extends across the globe.”

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