In the first two months of 2017, inbound visits to the UK set a new record with 5.2 million visits, up six on the same period last year. A record £2.7 billion was spent by overseas visitors in January and February, up 11% on the previous year.
“This record-breaking start to the year once more underlines the strength of our tourism industry. Our fantastic welcome and world-class attractions are continuing to attract huge numbers of visitors from across the globe, which is great news for the whole country,” said Tourism Minister Tracey Crouch.
VisitBritain Director, Patricia Yates, said, “These figures show that 2017 is off to a cracking start for inbound tourism, one of our most valuable export industries. Britain is offering great value for overseas visitors and we can see the success of our promotions in international markets. We must continue to build on our message of welcome and value in our high spending markets such as China, the U.S. and the valuable European market.”
Growth at the start of the year was led by long-haul markets including North America with 400,000 visits, up two percent compared to the same period last year as well as from other parts of the world up 15% to 790,000 visits.
In January and February, there were 3.6 million visits from the EU up five percent on the previous year. Strong growth was also seen in holiday visits in January and February, up 15% on the same period in 2016 with 1.6 million visits.
VisitBritain is predicting that the growth would continue in 2017 with 38.8 million visits and expecting the spending to reach £23.9 billion.