The latest figures from the Office for National Statistics show stellar growth from China with visits up 46 per cent on 2014 to 270,000, and spend up 18% to £586 million, moving China into the UK’s top 10 most valuable inbound markets.
Visits from the US, the UK’s most valuable tourism source market, grew 10% to 3.3 million in 2015. Visitors from the US spent £3 billion, a record not only from this market but the first time a single visitor market has broken the £3 billion spending mark.
A record was also set for visits from the high-spending UAE, up 34% in 2015 to 347,000 with spend up 12% to £487 million.
Tourism Minister David Evennett said:
"Our tourism industry is world-class and these impressive figures show that our nations and regions are increasingly benefitting from this thriving sector.
"Britain boasts some of the best attractions in the world and drawing more visitors in from key markets like China and the US is fantastic news for the whole country and shows our tourism strategy is working."
VisitBritain Director Patricia Yates said:
“Tourism is a fiercely competitive global industry so it is fantastic to see Britain competing strongly in our most valuable source markets such as the US as well as in the markets that are crucial for our future such as China.
“Our innovative digital marketing campaign using the hashtag #OMGB continues to drive tourism across our nations and regions, spreading its economic benefits across the UK.”
Other results include:
• France overtook Germany in 2015 to reach second place for visitor spending, up 4% to £1.5 billion with visits up 1% to 4.2 million. Visits from Germany were up 1% to 3.2 million with £1.4 billion spent.
• Visits from Spain were up 11% to 2.2 million. While visits from Poland reached a record 1.7 million, up 14%, with spending rising 23% to £438 million.
• Strong growth was seen from Canada with visits up 9% to 708,000 and spending up 7% to £506 million.
• Inbound visits from India also set a record, up 8% to 422,000. Visits from Brazil rose 10% to a record 324,000, with spending up 1% to £256 million.
Record numbers visiting English regions, London and Wales
The number of visits across the English regions, excluding London, reached a record for numbers and spend in 2015 with visits up 7% to 15.2 million, and spending up 4% to £7.5 billion.
• Inbound visits to the North East were up by 22%, and spend up 26%.
• The North West saw a 6% increase in visits and 9% increase in spend.
• The East Midlands and West Midlands saw growth in visits up 10% and 8% respectively.
• The East of England saw visits grow 4%.
• Visits were up in the South East by 11%, and in the South West by 8%.
• Yorkshire saw a dip of 6% however this comes on the back of its record-breaking figures and strong growth in 2014 following the region’s hosting of the Grand Depart of the Tour de France.
Records were also set for the number of visits to London up 7% on 2014 at 18.6 million, the first time the capital has seen more than 18 million visits, with spending up 1% to a record £11.9 billion.
Visits to Wales grew 4% in 2015 to 970,000, the highest since 2009, with spending growing an even stronger 12% to a record £410 million.
While visits to Scotland fell 4% in 2015 to 2.6 million, visit numbers were still well ahead of 2013 following strong growth in 2014.
Other latest figures out from the Office for National Statistics show that the first three months of 2016 have set a record for inbound visits to the UK. The figures show visits from January to March were up 6% on the same period last year to 7.36 million, with visitors spending £3.64 billion.
Inbound tourism is worth more £26 billion to the UK economy.
*The latest Office for National Statistics’ figures by market are for the fourth quarter of 2015 – from October to December giving the 2015 full year total. View the latest tourism trends by market.