The UK saw strong growth in 2017 from a mix of overseas visitor markets including China, Australia, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), India and the US, underpinning a record year for inbound tourism.
New figures from VisitBritain show double-digit growth in visits and spend last year from China, the world’s most valuable outbound market, with visits up 29% on 2016 to a record 337,000 and spending of £694 million, up 35%.
Visits from the US, the UK’s most valuable market for tourism spend, grew 13% to 3.9 million in 2017, the highest since 2000. Visitors from the US spent a record £3.6 billion, up 9%.
Records were set for visits and spend from the GCC and India. There were 562,000 visits from India, up 35% with visitors spending a record £454 million. There were a record 812,000 inbound visits from the GCC in 2017, up 5% with spend up 55%, to a record £2.2 billion.
There were 1.1 million visits from Australia in 2017, up 11%, with spending of £1.2 billion, up 13%.
Tourism Minister Michael Ellis said, “Britain’s tourism industry is booming. Last year was another record-breaker and we welcomed more people than ever from important markets including China, India and the Gulf states.
"We are working hard to sustain this excellent growth and encourage international visitors to travel around the UK, ensuring that more communities can benefit.”
VisitBritain Director Patricia Yates said, “Tourism is one of Britain’s most valuable export industries and the strong growth across many of our high-value markets demonstrates our continued ability to attract international visitors in a fiercely competitive global industry, and to deliver economic growth right across the country.
“This growth underscores the increasing importance of tourism as an industry that demonstrates Britain is an outward-facing nation, welcoming and engaging people from all over the world.”
There were a record 25.6 million visits from the EU in 2017, with visitors spending £10 billion.
Overall, 2017 was a record-breaker for overseas visits to the UK and for the amount visitors spent across the country. There were 39.2 million inbound visits to the UK in 2017, up 4%, with visitors spending £24.5 billion, up 9%.
Inbound tourism to the nations and regions in 2017
Inbound tourism visits across the English regions, outside of London, reached a record 16.5 million, up 3% with spending equalling the previous record of £7.8 billion.
Records were also set for the number of visits to London, up 4% on 2017 to 19.8 million, with spending up 14% to a record £13.5 billion.
There were 1.1 million inbound visits to Wales, with spending of £369 million.
Inbound visits to Scotland were up 17% to 3.2 million, with a record spend of £2.3 billion, up 23%.
Tourism is worth £127 billion annually to the UK economy, creating jobs and boosting economic growth across its nations and regions.