Tourism enjoys post-Games boost as overseas visitors hit new spending heights

Record-high spending by overseas visitors in the first half of 2013 has given UK tourism a welcome post-Olympics boost.

Foreign residents spent an all-time high of £8.72bn during their trips in the UK in January-June this year,an increase of 11 per cent on the amount spent in the first half of last year, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.

The half-year figures were boosted by the June 2013 statistics which showed that overseas residents spent a record £1.84bn, an increase of 13 per cent from June 2012 and well above the previous best total for the month achieved in June 2011.

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The ONS figures showed that foreign residents made 15.24 million visits to the UK in the period January to June 2013, a four per cent rise on the first six months of last year and the best half-year figures since 2008. A total of 2.89m of these visits were made in June alone, up 12 per cent compared with June 2012.

Of the June 2013 visits by foreign residents, 1.22 million were for holidays – 17 per cent up on the June 2012 holiday-trip total. Holiday visits by overseas residents for the first half of this year have also reached record levels, being up two per cent to 5.73m. The ONS figures also showed that UK residents made 25.97m trips abroad in the first six months of 2013,a rise of one per cent compared with the same period last year.

The amount spent during these overseas visits by Britons in the January-June 2013 period totalled £15.21bn.

Tourism Minister Hugh Robertson said: “These record figures for June show that our tourism strategy is working. We did all we can to showcase the best of Britain to the world in 2012 and it’s paying off.

“The tourism sector has a big role to play in delivering economic growth and we must keep up this momentum and continue to promote Britain as a great place to visit.”

VisitBritain’s overseas director Keith Beecham said: “This is the second consecutive month we have seen record visits and
spend, while the first six months of the year have also delivered a record.

“In June the UK welcomed more than a visitor every single second (67 overseas visitors a minute).

“If this trend continues, it would see us welcome one overseas visitor every second of every day of every week of every month of the year. This is great news for the economy and a further sign that tourism is delivering growth across the country.”

He went on: “Particularly encouraging is that we’ve witnessed a record 18 per cent rise in visits from the rest of world (excluding North America and Europe) markets, the first time June has ever seen us welcome over half a million visitors from these markets.”