International visits to Britain for the first nine months of 2015 have broken previous records according to new figures out today from the Office for National Statistics. The data shows there were 27.1 million visits to Britain from January to September this year, a 3% increase compared to the same period in 2014.
Spending by international visitors in September was £2.2 billion, equalling last year's record spend for the same month. Overall, spending by visitors for the first nine months of 2015 was £16.5 billion.
The continued growth in international visits reflects findings from the 2015 Anholt-GfK Nations Brand Index (NBI) published earlier this week, which showed that global perceptions of Britain as a welcoming place are improving.
China in particular gave the UK a big boost for ‘welcome' in the NBI, scoring it 3rd overall for this ‘attribute,' up 11 places from 2014. China also ranked the UK 1st overall for culture and 2nd overall for not only tourism but also as a place they'd like to visit if money was no object. The results come just as VisitBritain gets set to host its largest ever tourism mission to China next week with more than 70 travel trade and industry suppliers from the UK set to showcase what makes Britain a GREAT destination.
Latest figures show that a record number of visitors from China are coming to Britain with the number of visits in the first six months of 2015 up 28% to 90,000 compared to the same period last year, a record first six months of the year. Overall, the UK came 3rd out of 50 nations for its global ‘brand' in this year's NBI, a place it's held for the fifth year running. The annual index surveys more than 20,000 people from a panel of 20 countries on their perceptions of 50 nations on ‘tourism', ‘culture' and ‘people' as well as ‘exports', ‘governance' and ‘immigration/investment' and then ranks them for their overall brand.
Britain also improved its overall ranking in the NBI in its three largest and most valuable visitor markets, the US, France and Germany.
The US rated Britain 2nd out of 50 nations for its brand, with the highest leaps in perceptions of ‘natural beauty' and ‘cultural heritage. The US market has also been showing a continued return to growth, with a 3% increase in visitors to Britain during the first six months of 2015 compared to the previous year, and the amount spent 2% higher in the first six months of 2015 compared to the same period in 2014.
France ranked the UK in 4th place overall, its highest placing in seven years, while Germany moved it up 3 places to equal highest 6th place rank, with improvements in perceptions of ‘sport' and ‘welcome.'