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Record inbound visits during H1, but strong Pound suffocates spending

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British inbound tourism maintained its momentum in the first half of 2015, setting a new record for overseas visitor numbers, according to new figures from the Office for National Statistics.

There were 16.8 million inbound visits to Britain from January to June 2015 – an increase of five per cent compared to the first half of 2014. The encouraging results come following a record year for inbound tourism with 34.8 million visitors coming to Britain’s shores during 2014.

In addition, visits to the UK by overseas visitors are 3 per cent higher in the twelve months to June 2015, compared to the previous twelve month period. In June, the UK welcomed 3.23 million visitors, in line with the record figure set in June 2014.

The North American market continues to show recovery, with an increase of 15 per cent during June compared to the previous year, while the number of visits for the first six months of 2015 were up by 4 per cent.

Despite the boost in visitor numbers, overall visitor spending stayed unexpectedly flat as a strong pound – particularly against the Euro – left visitors with less money to play with on their trip. Overseas visitors spent £2.1bn while in the UK during June, 1 per cent below the record set in June 2014. However, overseas visitor spending remained on-par with the first six months of 2014, which ended up being a record year for spend.

“Tourism continues to be one of Britain’s most successful industries, where we are competing in an environment of shifting exchange rates,” said Patricia Yates, VisitBritain director of strategy and communications.

“It is also positive to see continued return to growth from North America, our most valuable market, and business visitors.”

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British inbound tourism maintained its momentum in the first half of 2015, setting a new record for overseas visitor numbers, according to new figures from the Office for National Statistics.
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London remains a major tourism draw and is forecast to attract 18.82m international visitors in 2015 / Shutterstock.com
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