Overseas visitors ‘to boost UK economy by £21bn’

York Minster and the city skyline
York Minster and the city skyline
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OVERSEAS visitors are set to spend record-breaking amounts of money in the UK next year, tourism chiefs claim today.

Foreign residents are likely to make two per cent more visits to the UK next year than in 2013.

This will result in spending reaching an all-time high of around £21.5bn, VisitBritain forecasts today.

The national tourism agency predicts the volume of visits will return to pre-global financial crisis record levels of 2008 with 32.6 million arrivals in 2014.

This year has already been a good for foreign tourism, with the number of visits from foreign residents up six per cent in the first 10 months, with spending up 12 per cent.

It said “exceptional growth” from high-spending markets including the Middle East, China and south east Asia has driven up average spending per visit.

VisitBritain has also welcomed Government funding of £90m for the Welcome-to-Britain GREAT campaign for the next two years.

The campaign was launched by the Government two years ago to capitalise on the Diamond Jubilee and Britain hosting the OIympic and Paralympic Games in London in 2012.

It promotes Britain internationally as a place to visit and do business and has featured British stars from the worlds of sport, entertainment and the creative industries.

In its 2014 forecast, VisitBritain expects to see continued strong growth from emerging markets, particularly Malaysia, South Korea, China and Mexico.

New flight routes are expected to bring more visitors and changes to visa processing for visitors from China and the Gulf will also make Britain more attractive.

The tourist organisation added that while the football World Cup in Brazil next summer may soften demand for outbound travel from the South American country, any change is unlikely to have a measurable impact on aggregate visits or spending in Britain.

Among highlights for 2014 will be the Grand Départ of the Tour de France in Yorkshire and the south east during July, the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in August and the Ryder Cup in Gleneagles, Scotland, in September.

VisitBritain chief executive Sandie Dawe said: “Government investment in the millions will bring tourism returns in the billions.

“This year is set to be a record.

“It just goes to show what can be achieved with a clear strategy and cooperation across all the major Government agencies promoting Britain overseas.”

Tourism Minister Helen Grant said: “Millions of people flock to British shores every year and our tourist attractions are world class.

“Tourism is a key plank of our economy, helping to drive growth and promoting Britain on the world stage.

“After a record 2013, we want to do even better in 2014 and that’s why we are committing an additional £90m to our fantastic GREAT campaign.”

Gary Verity, chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire, said: 
“2014 promises to be Yorkshire’s year, especially given the county will be thrust further into the global spotlight when the Grand Départ of the Tour de France – the world’s largest annual sporting event – begins right here in Yorkshire.

“The fact it is coming next year has already had an impact this year, with strong visitor numbers, rising spend and increasing lengths of stay – plus the inclusion of Yorkshire in world travel guides to 2014 such as Lonely Planet and AOL Travel.”

Earlier this week, it was revealed a marketing campaign to encourage more people to visit York delivered £7m for the city’s economy.

The York Wrapped Up campaign targeted hotspots in London including Covent Garden and major railway stations in the capital.

The city will unveil the next stage of its push to grow visitor numbers in the new year.

mike.waites@ypn.co.uk