April enjoys record-breaking spend from overseas visitors

Britain's tourism economy is worth a total of �127bn and enjoyed a record-breaking April this year in keeping with the trend during the first quarter of 2017. Picture by Richard Ponter.
Britain's tourism economy is worth a total of �127bn and enjoyed a record-breaking April this year in keeping with the trend during the first quarter of 2017. Picture by Richard Ponter.
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Britain’s £127bn tourism economy enjoyed a record April for visits and spending from overseas visitors, according to new figures released by the national tourism agency.

VisitBritain revealed that 3.7m visits were made to the UK during the course of the month, 19 per cent more than during the same month last year, and the highest April since records began.

Overseas visitors spent also set a new record for April of 2bn - a 20 per cent lift in spending compared to April 2016.

The latest figures come on the back of a record first-quarter for inbound visits to the UK and associated spending.

Patricia Yates, director of VisitBritain, said: “Tourism is one of Britain’s most valuable export industries and it is very encouraging to see this continued growth as we head into the peak summer season and beyond.

“We continue to drive home the message of value and welcome globally, particularly in our high spending markets China and the US and the valuable European market.”

The figures bring the number of inbound visits to the UK for January to April this year to a record 11.8m - 11 per cent more than the same period in 2016 with visitors spending £6.2bn, up 14 per cent and also setting a new record.

Growth this year has been led by visitors from long-haul regions such as North America with more than 1m visits from January to April, up 16 per cent compared to the same period last year.

Britain’s European neighbours have also visited in record numbers. Some 8.3m visits from EU countries were made in the first quarter of the year.

Latest flight booking data from ForwardKeys shows that bookings for international arrivals to the UK during the summer are currently tracking 12 per cent ahead of the same period last year.

Meanwhile, British holidaymakers are capitalising on cheaper grocery prices abroad, research by Post Office Travel Money and Monarch Holidays suggests. Despite the weak pound, the cost of food and drink at supermarkets is lower for UK visitors compared with five years ago at all eight European resorts analysed in the study.

The cheapest spot for a basket of 15 self-catering basics was Majorca (£31.91), followed by the Algarve (£33.65) and Lanzarote (£34.41).