The UK’s pulling power as a tourist destination fuelled by a weak pound was highlighted last year with a record rise in arrivals.
Inbound numbers grew 4% in 2017 over the previous year to it a new high of 39.2 million with spending up 9% to £24.5 billion.
The number of visitor nights spent in the UK increased by 3% in 2017 to 285 million, but the average number of nights per visit dell to 7.3, according to latest official figures.
Travellers from China, Australia, the Gulf, India and the US, underpinned a record year for inbound tourism.
Double-digit growth in visits and spend last year from China, the world’s most valuable outbound market, was reported by VisitBritain with visits up 29% on 2016 to a record 337,000 and spending of £694 million, up 35%.
Visits from the US, the UK’s most valuable source country for tourism spend, grew 13% to 3.9 million in 2017, the highest since 2000. Visitors from the US spent a record £3.6 billion, up 9%.
Records were set for visits and spend from the Gulf region and India.
A record 812,000 inbound visits were made from the Middle East, up 5%, with spend up 55% to £2.2 billion.
There were 562,000 visits from India, up 35% with visitors spending a record £454 million
The 1.1 million visits from Australia was up 11% year-on-year, with spending up 13% to of £1.2 billion.
Visits from the EU totalled 25.6 million, with travellers spending £10 billion.
Inbound tourism visits across the English regions, outside of London, rose by 3% to 16.5 million, up 3% with spending equalling the previous record of £7.8 billion.
Records were also set for the number of visits to London, up 4% on 2017 to 19.8 million, with spending up 14% to £13.5 billion.
There were 1.1 million inbound visits to Wales, with spending of £369 million.
Inbound visits to Scotland were up 17% to 3.2 million, with a record spend of £2.3 billion, up 23%.
Tourism is worth £127 billion annually to the UK economy, creating jobs and boosting economic growth across its nations and regions.
Tourism minister Michael Ellis said: “Britain’s tourism industry is booming. Last year was another record-breaker and we welcomed more people than ever from important markets including China, India and the Gulf states.
“We are working hard to sustain this excellent growth and encourage international visitors to travel around the UK, ensuring that more communities can benefit.”
VisitBritain director Patricia Yates added: “Tourism is one of Britain’s most valuable export industries and the strong growth across many of our high-value markets demonstrates our continued ability to attract international visitors in a fiercely competitive global industry, and to deliver economic growth right across the country.
“This growth underscores the increasing importance of tourism as an industry that demonstrates Britain is an outward-facing nation, welcoming and engaging people from all over the world.”
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