Inbound food & drink research

Going out to eat, drink or socialise are very commonly part of holidays in Britain. 

VisitBritain research shows that whilst going out to eat or drink is not a key reason for coming to Britain, there is still strong interest in trying British food.

Typical British dishes generate a high level of interest among those who have visited and also those who have yet to come. Most visitors to Britain are also likely to be satisfied with the food and drink they have experienced during their visit.


Download the full report (PDF, 1.3 MB).


In 2017 VisitBritain and DEFRA commissioned some new research to understand perceptions of Britain's food and drink amongst international travellers in key markets. A short summary of the key findings of the research are in this report (PDF, 958KB). Published July 2017.

Separately, some research was commissioned into food hubs around the world that could serve as best-in-class examples for Britain. Case studies were produced on the following 'food hubs' and their relevance to the UK:

Catalonia, Flanders (Belgium), Melbourne, Tasmania, Nova Scotia and the Basque Country

To find out more about these, please download the report which includes all of the above case studies. (PDF, 5MB). Published July 2017.


In 2011, we sponsored specific questions in the International Passenger Survey (IPS) to find out how many visitors from overseas undertook particular activities whilst in Britain, including going to pubs, bars and nightclubs. The results were as follows:

Propensity for visiting pubs and nightclubs

Activities asked about Visits which involved activity Nights spent in UK* Amount spent in UK*
  Visits  (000) % of all visits % of holiday visits Nights (000) £(m)
Went to pub 13,886 46% 50% 122,645 £9,393
Went to bars/nightclubs 3,842 13% 14% 42,495 £3,412

* By those whose visit included the activity. Nights and spend are not specifically whilst under-taking activity but throughout visit to UK

Scotland and London most likely to see visitors eating in restaurants while visitors to the North East and North West are especially likely to go to the pub or bars and nightclubs. Scotland also often sees holiday visitors visiting the pub. Those visiting Wales or the North West are most likely to socialise with locals, followed by those visiting the Midlands and Scotland.

Propensity for holidays in UK nations and regions to involve eating, drinking and socialising, 2006-2011

Dining in a restaurant 79% 71% 59% 83% 69% 58% 80% 70% 68% 79% 78% 89%
Going to pub 48% 53% 42% 53% 45% 55% 61% 56% 66% 77% 58% 70%
Socialising with the locals 38% 54% 47% 30% 47% 59% 57% 39% 61% 38% 62% 56%
Going to bars / nightclubs 15% 7% 6% 17% 8% 15% 11% 23% 30% 36% 12% 25%

Our report on inbound tourism to Britain’s nations and regions (PDF, 2.47MB) covers the profile of international visitors in different areas of Britain and the activities they do there, including showing where in Britain overseas visitors are most likely to eat out in restaurants and go to the pub.

Visits to pubs

Each year VisitBritain sponsors a number of questions on the International Passenger Survey to provide an insight into what types of activities overseas residents have got up to during their time in Britain.

One of the activities asked about during 2011 was ‘Going to a pub’.  The results underscore just how integral a part the pub plays in the experience of very many inbound visits; during 2011 13.9 million visits (around 45% of all visits) included at least one visit to a pub.

We do not have information on how much was spent by those from overseas in pubs, but what is apparent from the results is that the average amount spent by those whose itinerary includes a pub spend rather more than those who do not (£676 versus £503).

Read our overview of visits by international tourists to Britain's pubs (PDF, 1.44MB), including propensity to do so according to visit type and nationality. Published May 2012