The International Passenger Survey (IPS) was suspended on 16 March 2020 due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic until the start of 2021. The ONS have made every effort to produce high-quality estimates for the periods when IPS data is not being collected but have not been able to produce a full set of results. See the 2020 inbound page for more information. Data for 2021 and 2022 was also impacted by COVID-19, more information can be found on the About IPS page.

Due to the above, the latest full year IPS data below is from 2019. You can access data detailed data from 2020 onwards on the latest annual page.

Visitor characteristics

  • New York Tri-State and California generate the most visits with the two areas representing over a third of all visits from the USA to the UK
  • Almost 6 out of 10 American holiday visitors are making a repeat visit
  • Holiday visits continue to lead in terms of volume of visits from the American market (49% of visits)
  • London is the leading destination for a trip to the UK with 49% of visitor nights spent there

Popular activities for American visitors while in the UK

Dining in a restaurant

Sightseeing of Famous Buildings/ Monuments

Went Shopping

Global context

International tourism expenditure (US$bn)152.3
Global rank for international tourism expenditure2
Number of outbound visits (m)127.4
Most visited destinationMexico
Most visited destination in Western EuropeItaly

Key demographic and economic data

Population (m)332.2
GDP per capita PPP (US$)61,044
Annual average GDP growth over past decade (%)2.0
Annual GDP growth (%)5.7

Inbound visits to Britain from USA

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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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What Americans think about Britain

  • Americans have a very upbeat perception of Britain as they ranked Britain 3rd overall among 60 nations

  • Americans rate Britain highly for city life, contemporary culture,  and sport

  • Museums are the cultural product that is most strongly associated with Britain among Americans

  • Words associated with Britain by Americans include ‘educational’, ‘fascinating’, ‘exciting’, and ‘relaxing’

Caring for visitors

  • As many will arrive in Britain on overnight flights from the US, consideration for early check-in at hotels/accommodation is always appreciated
  • Americans will want to stay in a 3-star plus property in a good/central location
  • Americans are used to larger rooms than are generally found in Britain as well as larger beds and having private bathrooms
  • Americans are very comfortable paying for goods and services with a credit card

The leisure & travel trade

  • The travel trade structure in the US is made up of tour operators, online travel agents (OTAs) and front-line retail travel advisors. The market is experiencing growth in the Home Based Travel advisor community; often affiliated to a travel agent consortia
  • Generally allow a minimum lead time of two years for product to appear in a fully escorted tour, with a shorter planning cycle of six months to a year for FIT/independent travel
  • Some independent operators will develop product at various times throughout the year as many no longer publish printed brochures
  • Contracting for the following year can start any time from the fall (World Travel Market) through until June

Access to Britain from the USA

Weekly aircraft departures936
Weekly seat capacity257,331
Airports with direct routes in the USA36
Airports with direct routes in Britain13
  • Most visitors depart the UK by air (87%), another 11% leave through the Channel Tunnel
  • 36 airports in the USA were connected to the UK via direct flights, in 2019
  • In 2019, London Heathrow had 75% of seat capacity from the USA to the UK
  • Seat capacity from the USA to the UK has increased by 21% from 2014-2019
  • The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic led to a 70% reduction in seat capacity from the US to the UK in 2020