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UK revels in record year of tourism growth

An extra £872 million in visitor spending was generated across the UK in the last year as a result of work by national tourism agency VisitBritain/VisitEngland latest figures show.

This means for every pound invested in the organisation, £20 of additional visitor spend was generated for the economy.

The figures, announced at its 2016-17 annual review, come on the back of strong growth from inbound tourism.

From January to July this year there were a record 23.1 million overseas visits to the UK, up eight per cent on the same period last year with visitors spending £13.3 billion, up nine per cent.

And VisitBritain is forecasting that overseas visits to the UK will increase six per cent to 39.7 million in 2017 with spending up 14 per cent to £25.7 billion by the end of this calendar year.

Brits are also taking more holidays at home.

From January to June this year, domestic overnight holidays in England rose seven per cent to a record 20.4 million with visitors spending £4.6 billion, up 17 per cent and also a record.

UK minister for tourism, John Glen, said: “Tourism contributes billions to the UK economy, supports millions of jobs and is the lifeblood for many communities across the country.

“We have seen record-breaking inbound visits and spend this summer, which is testament to our world-class attractions and the innovation of our tourism industry.

“Internationally we are performing strongly in a hugely competitive market and I will continue to work closely with the sector to maintain growth, get the best possible deal as we exit the EU and retain the UK’s position as the must-visit destination.”

British Tourist Authority chairman Steve Ridgway said the 16 per cent fall in the exchange rate was making visiting Britain even more attractive but had impacted the overseas marketing budgets quite heavily – despite this, the organisation had delivered for British tourism.

Ridgway said: “Tourism is an economic powerhouse, worth £127 billion annually to the economy and a job creator right across Britain.

“Two and a half times bigger than the automotive industry, employing three million, tourism is one of our most successful exports and needs no trade deals to compete globally.

“Tourism is a fiercely competitive global industry and you cannot just build a strong, resilient industry on a weaker currency.

“We must continue to invest in developing world-class tourism products, getting Britain on the wish-list of international and domestic travellers.

“And we must make it easy for visitors to make that trip.”

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