Business visits & events

The business visits and events sector is incredibly diverse, covering trade fairs, conferences and congresses, outdoor and entertainment events as well as business tourism.

Understanding Business Visits

Business visits accounted for 21% of all inbound visits in 2019, with 8.7 million such visits, and contributed £4.8 billion in spend. Read our latest foresight report ‘Understanding Business Visits’ (PDF, 796KB) Published March 2021 to explore the business sub category data in more detail. 

Some key highlights from the report show there were 3.5 million visits were made to attend small and medium sized meetings (up to 20 people), while 1.8 million MICE visits were made to attend a large meeting (21+ people), a conference, convention or congress, an incentive or team building events, or an exhibition, event or trade show.

Regional breakdown of visits are provided, with London continuing to lead in terms of share of visits, nights and spend for business visits to the UK overall, and for MICE visits.

Business visits by market

The latest annual data from the International Passenger Survey is available below. View data for visits, nights, and spend of business visitors, as well as filter visits by age, gender, season, mode of transport, length of stay for the last full year of data. We also have latest quarterly data available for the whole of the UK, for the nations and regions of Britain and annual trends by area where you can filter by journey purpose (including business visits).

Business visits to the UK by event type

In 2016, 2018 and 2019 VisitBritain sponsored an additional question on the International Passenger Survey to understand the breakdown of the business visits into more detailed categories, namely: Meetings of 1-5 people, Meetings of 6-20 people, Large Meetings of 21+ people, Conferences Conventions and Congress, Training and Development, Exhibition, Events and Trade Shows, Incentive and Team Building and Other. We have also separated lorry drivers from the ‘Other’ category.

Type of business visits to the UK by overseas residents, 2019

Business Event Type

Visits (000) Nights (000) Spend (£m)
Meeting 1-5 people 1,881 5,121 £1,126
Meeting 6-20 people 1,550 5,149 £1,201
MICE including: 1,774 7,618 £1,678
   - Meeting 21+ people 646 2,378 £573
   - Incentive/Team Building 67 685 £69
   - Conference/ Convention/ Congress 742 3,193 £716
   - Exhibition/ Event/ Trade Show 319 1,363 £319
Training/ Development 528 3,613 £546
Lorry driving 1,851 3,629 £163
Other 888 10,331 £960
Don't Know 198 806 £151
ALL BUSINESS VISITS 8,670 36,267 £5,823

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Number of visits

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Total expenditure (GBP)

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Total nights spent

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Average length of stay (Nights)

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Average spend per visit (GBP)

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