Highest August ever for overseas visits to UK

New figures released today show that it was a record-breaking August for inbound tourism to the UK with 3.8 million visits, up 2% on the same month last year.

Overseas visitors to the UK spent £2.6 billion in August, 4% up on the same month last year. 

 August saw strong growth from North America, which includes the US – the UK’s most valuable visitor market – with 510,000 visits, up 13% compared to the same month last year.

The Office for National Statistics figures also show a record-breaking first eight months of the year for visits from EU countries, the UK’s largest visit-generating region, with 16.8 million visits, 3% up on last year. 

Today’s figures bring inbound visits from January to August this year to 25 million, up 3% on the same period last year and a record year–to-date. Spending by visitors during this period was £14.6 billion.  

Tourism Minister Tracey Crouch said: 

"2016 has been an incredible year for British tourism and underlined our status as one of the top visitor destinations in the world. 

"We continue to attract a record number of tourists from across the globe, which is not only great news for the sector, but the whole economy. 

"We are absolutely committed to supporting the industry, and our Tourism Action Plan and £40 million Discover England Fund will help it grow further and spread the economic benefits across the country."

VisitBritain/VisitEngland Chief Executive Sally Balcombe said:

“These back-to-back record-breaking figures not only underpin a longer-term pattern of growth for inbound tourism, one of our fastest growing export industries, but also demonstrate its growing importance to the UK economy.

“We’re inspiring overseas visitors to book a trip right now through our #OMGB ‘Britain, Home of Amazing Moments’ campaign, showcasing the incredible experiences on offer across our nations and regions. And we’re working with commercial partners in our key inbound markets including China and the US to convert the desire to visit into bookings.”

VisitBritain’s #OMGB ‘Home of Amazing Moments’ campaign, part of the UK Government’s global GREAT Britain campaign, is launching with new content across major inbound visitor markets including Europe, the US and Australia and growth markets of China, the Gulf countries and India. Latest flight booking data from ForwardKeys shows that bookings from China to the UK are up 24% for October to December, India up 11% and the US up 6%.

This month VisitBritain and Expedia launched a multi-million pound three-year partnership to market Britain abroad to France, Germany and the US, Britain’s three largest and most valuable inbound visitor markets. Developing products that make it easier for overseas visitors to navigate Britain and experience more of what the nations and regions have to offer is central to the partnership.

The latest record-breaking numbers follow new figures announced by VisitBritain earlier this month that showed that overseas visitors spent an extra £800 million across the nations and regions of Britain as a result of its work in 2015-16. That meant that every £1 invested in VisitBritain’s activities resulted in an overseas visitor spending £23 in Britain.

In August UK Prime Minister Theresa May launched a ‘Tourism Action Plan’ to ensure that Britain remains a top destination for visitors from across the globe. 

Last year set a record for inbound tourism to Britain on visits and spend with 36.1 million visits, 5% up on 2014, and spending up 1% to £22.1 billion. 

Inbound tourism is worth more than £26 billion a year to the UK economy. 


*Click here to view the latest statistics