The latest figures from the Office for National Statistics come as UK businesses, such as budget hotel group Travelodge start to aim their businesses towards the needs of Chinese visitors.
Other notable areas of growth last year were from the UAE and the US, whose 3.3 million visitors spent £3bn last year, a record spend from any market.
Although overall spend from the UAE was less, at £487m, the market had the highest growth in visitor numbers, up 34 per cent to 347,000 on 2014.
Other growth markets include Spain, whose visitor numbers rose 11 per cent to 2.2m, Brazil where visits were up 10 per cent and spend at £256m and Canada, whose 708,000 visitors (a rise of 9 per cent on the previous year) spent £506m.
VisitBritain director Patricia Yates said: "Tourism is a fiercely competitive global industry so it is fantastic to see Britain competing strongly in our most valuable source markets such as the US as well as in the markets that are crucial for our future such as China."
ONS figures for 2015 also show that there were a record number of visits to the English regions (excluding London) with visits up 7 per cent to 15.2m and spending up 4 per cent to £7.5bn overall.
The North East saw the biggest influx of visitors, up 22 per cent on 2014 with spend up 26 per cent while the South East experienced an 11 per cent rise in the number of visits. Yorkshire saw visits fall by 6 per cent, thought to be due to its record-breaking figures in 2014 when it hosted the Grand Depart of the Tour de France.
In Wales, visits grew 4 per cent to 970,000, the highest since 2009, with spending growing an even stronger 12 per cent to a record £410 million.
While visits to Scotland fell 4 per cent in 2015 to 2.6m, visit numbers were still well ahead of 2013 following strong growth in 2014.
Tourism Minister David Evennett said: "Our tourism industry is world-class and these impressive figures show that our nations and regions are increasingly benefiting from this thriving sector.
"Britain boasts some of the best attractions in the world and drawing more visitors in from key markets like China and the US is fantastic news for the whole country and shows our tourism strategy is working."