Published on Monday, December 19, 2011

UK visitor numbers hit record high


International visitor numbers and spending in the UK rose to their highest levels for three years in October.


Figures released today showed both were up by 2%, with numbers boosted by an increase in holidaymakers, VFR traffic and an influx of visitors from European countries outside the EU.


At 2.77 million overall, visitor numbers are at a higher level than any other October in the last three years, slightly up on the same period in 2010 and just below the record 2.82m in October 2007.


Visitors spent a record £1.7 billion, 2% up on the previous record of £1.6 billion in October 2010 (before taking account of inflation). Building on the record spend seen in the summer this has resulted in record earnings so far in 2011 of £14.9 billion, 4% higher than the year to date for the same point  in 2010.


Overall visits from Europe were up by 4% compared to October 2010, this despite no change from the major EU15 (nations who were members of the European Union before the 2004 expansion). The rise comes as a result of other European markets continuing to show a high interest in visiting the UK. Strong arrivals from the likes of Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland, means visits are up by 46% compared to October last year, 21% higher than the previous record in October 2005.


Total visits and spend from overseas so far in 2011 (up to and including October) remain 3% and 4% respectively above their 2010 levels. The increases have been buoyed by particularly strong figures from growth markets such as Brazil, which has recorded a 47% rise in 2011 compared to the first ten months of 2010, along with China (28%) and Russia (19%).


Patricia Yates, director of strategy and communications at VisitBritain, said: “We have had a particularly good year so far in both visitors and spend, especially from those coming from the emerging tourism markets like Brazil, China and Russia where we need to compete strongly to ensure Britain maintains its position near the top of the world rankings.


“In the new year our 'GREAT Britain - You're Invited' campaign will look to build on the positive gains made in the VFR market, enticing potential visitors with the warm welcome of their friends and family here in the UK and putting Britain on the destinations wish list for millions across the globe.”

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