UK sees record tourist numbers as exchange rate falls
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We must continue to invest in developing world-class tourism products

Overseas visits to the UK hit a record 23 million in the first seven months of the year, according to new figures from VisitBritain.

Announced today (10 October) as part of VisitBritain/VisitEngland’s 2016-17 annual review, results show strong growth in the past year for inbound tourism, with a record 23.1 million overseas visits between January and July – an increase of eight per cent, with visitor spend increasing by nine per cent to £13.3bn.

Predictions for the full year see inbound visits increase six per cent to 39.7 million, with visitor spending rising by 14 per cent to £25.7bn.

The latest findings also show that for every pound invested in VisitBritain, 20 more are generated for the economy – accounting for £872m in visitor spending in 2017.

The predicted trend of increased staycations following the Brexit vote is also ringing true, with domestic overnight holidays rising by seven per cent to a record 20.4 million visitors for the first half of the year, and spend up by 17 per cent to £4.6bn.

According to Steve Ridgeway, VisitBritain chair and the man leading the tourism industry’s bid for a sector deal under the government’s Industrial Strategy, results have been helped by the 16 per cent fall in the exchange rate, which has made Britain a more attractive proposition. However, this has also impacted overseas marketing budgets for VisitBritain.

“Tourism is an economic powerhouse, worth £127bn annually to the economy and a job creator right across Britain,” he said.

“Tourism is two-and-a-half times bigger than the automotive industry, employing three million. It is one of our most successful exports and needs no trade deals to compete globally.

“This is a fiercely competitive global industry and you cannot just build a strong, resilient industry on a weaker currency. We must continue to invest in developing world-class tourism products, getting Britain on the wishlist of international and domestic travelers. And we must make it easy for visitors to make that trip.”

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