The UK’s place as a top tourist destination has been firmly cemented as figures reveal that foreign tourists spent a record £17.7bn in 2011.
Last year also saw a record number of visitors to the UK for holidays, rather than business trips or those visiting family, a massive 12 million people, according to the Tourism organisation VisitBritain.
Totaling a massive 30.61 million visits to the UK by overseas residents, with the majority of these visiting in the first three-quarters of 2011. This was a rise of three per cent on last year, and the highest level seen since 2008.
Last year also saw a five per cent increase on North American visitors, a total of 3.57 million. On the other hand Brits made 56.05 million visits abroad in 2011, increasing just one per cent on the previous year. And the amount they spend shrank two per cent.
VisitBritain strategy and communications director Patricia Yates said: ‘As we look back on a positive 2011 for both holiday visits and spending, we want to make sure we capitalise on these gains by helping boost jobs across the country and create a lasting tourism legacy for many years to come.
‘We are encouraged that…the number of visitors coming to Britain from North America has risen. This is significant as we earn very nearly twice as much from US visitors than we do from any other source market.’
The news came as VisitBritain’s largest advertising campaign was launched in the capital by Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt.
It hoes to attract a further 4.6 million tourists to the UK over the next four years, with the aim of securing an extra £2.3 billion in visitor spending.