According to new figures from the Office for National Statistics, in the first nine months of 2014 overseas tourist spending reached new records in Wales (£303 million), Scotland (£1.5 billion), London (£8.9 billion), East of England (£693 million), North West (£849 million) and the South East (£1.7 billion).
Compared to the same period in 2013, from January to September 2014 overseas visits grew at a faster rate to Wales (14%), Scotland (12%) and Yorkshire (12%, reaching a new record of 1.08 million) than they did to London (6%). These uplifts are likely to have been enhanced by Yorkshire’s hosting of the Tour de France Grand Départ in July, President Obama’s attendance at the NATO Summit in Newport in September and the 2014 UEFA Super Cup in Cardiff in August.
Wales saw strong uplift from its top inbound tourism source markets compared to the same time last year, with the biggest volume of visits - 121,000 - coming from the Republic of Ireland (up 18%), while visits from Australia were up 9% to a new record, USA up 2% and both Sweden and Spain showing continued strong growth from 2013, up 40% and 39% respectively.
Spending by overseas visitors to London during January to September 2014 reached £8.9 billion, equating to the strongest nine-month period on record. Overseas visits from London’s three biggest markets all increased in the first nine months of 2014: USA up 6%, France up 4% and Germany up 10%.
The first nine months of 2014 - covering the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in August and the Ryder Cup at Gleneagles in September - equated to a very positive period for Scotland, with volume of visits up 12% and value up 7% compared to 2013. Visits from a number of countries to Scotland - Germany, Australia, Netherlands, Norway and Denmark - all reached new records. Significant growth in visits came from Sweden - 109% - and the USA (37%), which also reached a new Scotland record of £370 million. Spend from Australia (£111 million) and China (£57 million) also hit new records, whilst China saw massive growth in spend overall at 68%.
Both short and long haul source countries showed overall growth in tourism to Britain in the first nine months. In all three quarters of 2014 visits, nights and spend from the USA all posted increases compared to the same period in 2013. In the nine months to September there were 2.4 million visits from the US, 8% more than last year, while spending increased 14% to £2.3 billion – a new record. There was also a sharp increase in nights spent in Britain by visitors from the USA (27%) resulting in the average length of stay for a USA visitor increasing from 8 nights per visits in 2013 to 9.3 in 2014.
The UK too has seen recovery in visits and spending from its closest European neighbours. During the first nine months of 2014 visits were up 11% to 1.4 million from Spain, back towards levels last seen in 2011 and growing faster than those from Germany (up 10% to a new record of 2.7 million ) and France (up 2% to 3.1 million). Spaniards spent £747 million during January to September 2014, 17% more than the same period last year, whilst spend from Germany reached a new record of £1.2 billion.
Patricia Yates, Director of Strategy and Communications, said: “Inbound tourism is an export industry at which Britain is demonstrably successful, with further growth predicted this year. VisitBritain will continue to focus on the rebalancing of this growing industry in 2015 to benefit the whole country.
“Next week we will launch a £3 million Countryside is GREAT campaign to showcase the beauty of our countryside – from Cornwall to the Lake District, Pembrokeshire to the Scottish Highlands. We also secured £4m of advertising space in Heathrow airport to promote travel on from London and will continue to work with regional gateways such as Manchester and Birmingham to spread valuable inbound tourists to the nations and regions in record numbers.”
Tourism Minister Helen Grant said: "Britain has so much to offer tourists and it's fantastic that more of them are exploring the country and helping to drive growth outside of London. I want overseas visitors to experience the very best of Britain and with a record £22 billion expected to be spent this year the tourism sector is well placed to keep up this momentum, as part of the Government's long-term economic plan."
For more information contact:
VisitBritain Media Teampressandpr@visitbritain.com