Detailed market by market figures released today(1) show the increasing popularity of Britain from emerging tourism powerhouse China, a French inbound market which is stronger than ever and record spend figures from Australia, Canada and the UAE.
In the year London hosted its third Olympics, Britain achieved solid overall results with a record total spend (£18.6bn, a 4% rise from 2011) and a welcome 1% rise in visits.
Looking at the market specific breakdown, there was no substantial changes to the top ten countries(2) from 2011, with close European neighbours France continuing to dominate the visit tables. 3.8 million French crossed the Channel last year, with a huge 30% rise in spending (to £1.5 billion).
Germany, the USA, Republic of Ireland and the Netherlands complete the top five. The Netherlands - along with Poland and Belgium - moved up the Top Ten rankings in 2012.
VisitBritain’s efforts to attract a greater number of visitors from emerging markets also appears to be paying dividends. A record 179,000 visitors from China came to Britain in 2012 (up 20%), who in turn spent £300 million here (a rise of 25%). This means visitors from China spend an average of £1676 per visit, nearly three times the amount spent on average by all visitors.
But it’s not just Chinese visitors contributing to the UK economy. High spending visitors from Australia and the UAE broke previous records, while Canadians, Danish, Portuguese and the Swiss also had a year of record spending.(3)
Sandie Dawe, Chief Executive of VisitBritain commented: “2012 was a good year for inbound tourism with some key markets achieving record results. These figures prove that our ability to match Government investment with funds from private sector partners is a winning formula. Our campaigns are working and tourism has once again shown its ability to deliver growth, revenue and jobs across Britain.
“Our task now is to ensure we build on the image boost of the 2012 Games to attract an even greater number of visitors this year and beyond. By 2020, the UK could welcome 40 million overseas visitors a year, contributing £31.5 billion annually to the economy.”
Minister for Tourism, Hugh Robertson said: “The tourism industry plays a key part in selling a modern, welcoming and dynamic Britain abroad that helps contribute to economic growth and drive investment. These latest figures are encouraging as they show welcome increase of inbound tourism from key markets such France and positive signs from emerging markets like China and the UAE. We had a huge boost last year with the Jubilee and hosting the Olympic and Paralympic Games and the Government remains committed to making sure we capitalise on it.”
Meanwhile, new figures from the national tourism agency are set to show that in the past two years its marketing activities have contributed £900 million to the UK tourism industry in additional earnings from international visitors, a return on investment of 18 to 1.
VisitBritain will shortly release its long-term growth strategy for Britain which aims to attract 40 million international visitors a year by 2020.
For more information contact:
VisitBritain Media Teampressandpr@visitbritain.com