The Office for National Statistics results show that from January to March this year visits from the US, the UK’s most valuable visitor market, grew by 9% to 542,000 compared to the same period last year. Strong growth was also seen from EU countries with 5.4 million visits, a 10% increase on the first quarter of last year, and spend up 7% to £1.8 billion.
Germany and Spain showed double-digit growth in visits and spend in the first quarter. Visits from Germany grew 24% to 602,000 with spend up 26% to £222 million. A new record was set for the number of inbound visits from Spain which grew by 12% to 548,000, with spend also up 15% to £195 million.
Visits from the UAE were up 15% to 77,000, the strongest first quarter on record, with spend also up 9% to £105 million, while visits from China, the world’s largest outbound market, were on par with last year’s record first quarter, putting the market on track for another good year. Visits from Australia grew by 10% to 157,000 with spending increasing by 30% to £173 million.
VisitBritain Director Patricia Yates said:
“It’s really encouraging to see strong growth in visits from some of our most important markets and we now have the opportunity to build on this as Britain is offering great value for inbound visitors.
“We are anticipating a strong summer holiday season as we spread this message of value and continue our global #OMGB ‘Home of Amazing Moments’ marketing campaign to inspire visitors with the amazing experiences they can only find in Britain and work with partners to offer great tactical deals to drive bookings. It’s a great summer to come to Britain.”
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.