The number of international visits to the UK has continued to set new records according to the Office for National Statistics, with international visits up around 12% this October compared with October 2014, and a 9% increase in international spend.
Overall, in the 10-months of the year-to-date the number of overseas visits was 30.5 million, 4% higher than for the same period last year, indicating that this year is firmly on track to be another record-breaker for overseas visits to Britain.
Overseas visitors also spent 9% more in October than they did in the same month last year, spending close to £2 billion and setting a new record for this month. Overall, spending by visitors for the first 10-months of 2015 was £18.4bn.
Breaking down the visits into categories of ‘journey purpose’ as defined by the ONS, there was a 7% increase in holiday visits compared to October last year, a 14% increase in those visiting friends and relatives, a 2% increase in business visits and a whopping 74% increase in the ‘miscellaneous’ category, another record for October.
VisitBritain Director Patricia Yates said:
“It’s really encouraging to see the increases in visits and spend for October particularly coming on the back of the Rugby World Cup (RWC). We’re working hard to drive tourism across all our nations and regions and with almost half a million international visitors having attended RWC matches and events across 11 host cities, including places which wouldn’t necessarily be on the immediate radar for many overseas visitors, we can be confident that the economic benefits from October’s record results are being felt across many of our regions.”
Another record for October was the 14% increase in overseas visits from the EU15 markets, the UK’s largest visit-generating region, with 1.9 million visits. In the 10-months to date there were close to 17 million visits from these markets, a 2% increase on the same period in 2014.
Visits from North America, which include the US – the UK’s most valuable visitor market – and Canada, were up 7% in the year-to-date.
Tourism is Britain’s seventh largest export industry and third largest service sector. The industry is also a major job creator, for example every 22 additional Chinese visitors that come to Britain create an additional job in the sector. Inbound tourism was worth more than £26 billion to the UK economy in 2013.