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Inbound tourism to the UK hit a record 35.8 million visits last year, up 4% on 2014 and the sixth consecutive year of growth.
Visitors spent £21.8 billion in the UK, in line with a record breaking figure set in 2014.
Spending for December alone was up by 1% year-on-year to £1.7 billion.
A comparison of growth over the last five years shows that there were six million more visits in 2015 than 2010, an increase of 20%.
Latest forecasts from VisitBritain show that the growth in visitor numbers is set to continue with 36.7 million visits expected in 2016.
Spending by overseas visitors is predicted to reach almost £23 billion this year despite the strength of sterling.
Arrivals from North America, which includes the most valuable tourism source market of the US, showed growth of 8% last year compared to 2014, with 3.9 million visits.
Visits from the rest of the world grew by 6% to hit a record 5.6 million. Arrivals from high volume European countries grew by a more modest 2% increase on 2014 to 19.9 million.
The overall number of holiday visits to the UK was up by 1% to 13.7 million, while those visiting friends and relatives rose by 7% to 10.5 million.
Inbound business travel increased by 6% to 8.7 million visits and people coming for other reasons was up 5% t 2.9 million.
Tourism Minister, David Evennett, said: “Tourism is one of the UK’s fastest growing industries, and attracting more international visitors to our shores is not only important for the sector but for the nation’s whole economy.
“These record figures show how our incredible mixture of stunning countryside, world-class sport, historic buildings and thriving cities continue to be a major draw for tourists.”
VisitBritain director, Patricia Yates, said: “This growth is really fantastic news for the UK economy and shows we’re on track to realise our ambition to grow international visits by more than 20% to 42 million by 2020, which could see an additional £4.5 billion in visitor spend, as well as driving tourism across all our nations and region so its benefits are felt across the whole of Britain.”
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