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.

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).

Inbound visits to Britain

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Overview of UK visitor statistics in   Change from previous year
Number of visits
Total expenditure (GBP)
Total nights spent
Average length of stay (Nights)
Average spend per visit (GBP)
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Business visits to the UK by event type

In 2016 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 and Conventions, Training and Development, Exhibition and Trade Shows, Incentive and Team Building and Other.

Type of business visits to the UK by overseas residents, 2016

Business Event Type

Visits (000) Nights (000) Spend (£m)
Meeting 1-5 people 1,799 4,706 £1,011
Meeting 6-20 people 1,707 5,271 £1,323
Meeting 21+ people 497 1,898 £508
Conference/Convention 566 2,407 £537
Training/Development 351 2,691 £363
Exhibiiton/Trade Show 204 769 £194
Incentive/Team Building 68 320 £69
Other 3,459 14,864 £1,018
Don't Know 542 4,090 £430
ALL BUSINESS VISITS 9,187 37,016 £5,452

Business visits accounted for 24% of all visits in 2016 and contributed £5.5 billion in spend.  Our Foresight report Understanding Business Visits (PDF, 936KB) explores 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 (fewer than 20 people), while 491,000 visits were made to attend larger meetings. For conferences and exhibitions, 771,000 visits took place.

Regional breakdown of visits are provided, with London continuing to lead in terms of share of visits, night and spend. For the East and West Midlands, East of England, North East, North West and Yorkshire, at least a quarter of visits were made for business.