UK data shows record growth in inbound tourism

39.2 million tourists visited the UK in 2017

New data from VisitBritain shows record double-digit growth in inbound tourism, from visitor markets including China, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), India and the US.

Celebrating a phenomenal year of inbound tourism, the UK saw significant growth in visits and spending from key markets last year. The report comes from The Office for National Statistics, which released the final International Passenger Survey (IPS) results covering 2017.

“Britain’s tourism industry is booming”

Michael Ellis, tourism minister, said: “Britain’s tourism industry is booming. Last year was another record-breaker and we welcomed more people than ever from important markets including China, India and the Gulf states. We are working hard to sustain this excellent growth and encourage international visitors to travel around the UK, ensuring that more communities can benefit.”

Key markets

One key market is China (the world’s most valuable outbound market), which has seen a record of 337,000 visits and spending of GBP 694 million (USD 912 m) – an increase of 35%.

In other parts of the world such as the US (the UK’s most valuable market for tourism spend), figures grew 13% to 3.9 million in 2017 – the highest since 2000, with visitors from the US spending a record GBP 3.6 billion.

Furthermore, records were set for visits and spend from the GCC and India. There were 562,000 visits from India, up 35% with visitors spending a record GBP 454 m. There were also a record 812,000 inbound visits from the GCC in 2017, up 5%, with spending up 55% to a record GBP 2.2 bn.

There were a record 25.6 million visits from the EU in 2017, with visitors spending GBP 10 bn. Overall, 2017 was a record-breaker for overseas visits to the UK and for the number of visitors spent across the country. There were 39.2 millionn inbound visits to the UK in 2017, with visitors spending GBP 24.5 bn.

“Tourism is one of Britain’s most valuable export industries”

Patricia Yates, director of VisitBritain, commented: “Tourism is one of Britain’s most valuable export industries and the strong growth across many of our high-value markets demonstrates our continued ability to attract international visitors in a fiercely competitive global industry and to deliver economic growth right across the country.

“This growth underscores the increasing importance of tourism as an industry that demonstrates Britain is an outward-facing nation, welcoming and engaging people from all over the world.”

Tourism is worth GBP 127 bn annually to the UK economy, creating jobs and boosting economic growth across its nations and regions.

VisitBritainPatricia YatesMichael EllisInternational Passenger Survey