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Record year for British tourism

International visitors spent an extra £800 million across Britain in the past year, according to the latest figures.

This means that every £1 invested in VisitBritain’s activities resulted in an overseas visitor spending £23 in Britain.

Domestic visitors spent an additional £97.2 million in England as a result of VisitEngland’s 2015 ‘Holidays at Home are GREAT’ campaign.

The figures come on the back of a bounce from inbound tourism to the UK in July with more visits than ever before, up 2% to 3.8 million compared to the same month last year, with spend up 4% to £2.5 billion. It continues a long-term pattern of growth which last year saw a record 36.1 million inbound visits to Britain and spend of £22.1 billion.

Domestic visitors also spent more in England last year than ever before, with £19.6 billion spent by Brits on overnight trips, up 8% on 2014.

British Tourist Authority Chairman Christopher Rodrigues said that VisitBritain/VisitEngland was in “pole position” to build on this growth and fulfil its government remit of growing the value of inbound tourism to the nations and regions, and developing England’s tourism product through the Discover England Fund.

“Tourism is a shining star in an uncertain world. As our fourth biggest service export, and one of our fastest growing sectors, tourism’s importance as a key economic driver and job creator is clear. While the talk is of trade deals with new markets, tourism is already leading the way, competing strongly in our most valuable source markets such as the US and in markets that are crucial for our future including China,” Christopher said.

Last year visitors from the US, Britain’s most valuable source market, spent £3 billion in Britain for the first time and visits from China, the world’s largest outbound market, increased by 46%, with spend up 18%. This moved China into Britain’s top 10 most valuable markets, while flight booking data from ForwardKeys showed that bookings from China to the UK were up 24% for October to December.

Mr Rodrigues said that VisitBritain was seizing the opportunity to promote a message of value and welcome globally, launching its #OMGB ‘Britain, Home of Amazing Moments’ campaign with new content this autumn across its major markets in Europe, the US and Australia and the growth markets of China, the Gulf countries and India.

“Once again we have shown our ability to build great partnerships, leveraging private sector money to amplify our message and convert the aspiration to travel into bookings. We have received £12.7 million cash and in-kind for our international marketing, working with commercial partners including Expedia, Hainan Airlines, STA Travel and British Airways and a further £2 million in-kind from trade partners for ‘Holidays at Home are GREAT’,” he said.

Mr Rodrigues said the UK government’s Tourism Action Plan, announced in August, showed its commitment to the success of the tourism industry. This included the launch of the £40 million three-year Discover England Fund to develop England’s competitive tourism offer.

“This is a unique opportunity to develop world-class ‘bookable’ tourism products that will keep us at the top of the list as a must-go-now destination. It also shows how, by working with our partners, we can deliver an ever more appealing and competitive tourism offer to our domestic and international visitors.”

Tourism Minister Tracey Crouch said: “These amazing figures show that Britain continues to be a world-class visitor destination. Together with VisitBritain/VisitEngland, our tourism strategy is working and it is fantastic news that so many overseas and domestic visitors are exploring the stunning countryside, historic buildings and vibrant culture that our country has to offer.”

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