International tourists flock to regional England: report
More international tourists are travelling across English regions than ever before with some areas showing double digit growth in visitor numbers. And they are spending more too.
The findings are part of research conducted by VisitBritain, which showed that during the first nine months of 2015, visits to English regions outside London were up 7% on the same period in 2014 with 11.7 million visits, setting a new record.
Spending by international visitors across the regions was up 4% to £5.8 billion compared to the same period in 2014.
Figures also show that July to September 2015 was a record breaker for a quarter three period, with 4.7m visits to the English regions, an 8% increase on the same period in 2014 and beating the previous record set in 2006.
The number of international visitors travelling to the North showed especially strong growth in the first nine months of 2015 with visits to the North East up 23% compared to the same period in 2014, and up 12% in the North West.
Tourism Minister David Evennett said: “We invested £10 million in 2015 to boost tourism in the North and these figures show that it is already making a huge difference, bringing more visitors to the area.
“A booming tourism industry supports local economies, brings job growth to the regions and helps cement their reputation as must-visit destinations.”
The regional figures show that in the nine months from January to September 2015:
Inbound visits to the North East increased by 23% to 460,000 on 2014 figures.
The North West saw a 12% increase in visits to 2.1m on 2014 figures.
Visits to the West Midlands increased 8% to 1.6m and East Midlands up 15% to 880,000 visits.
The East of England saw visits grow 5% during the first nine months to 1.7m.
Visits to the South West grew 6% to 1.9m and the South East 9% to 4m.
Yorkshire saw a dip with 998,000 visitors in the first nine months of 2015 compared to 1.1m in 2014. However this comes on the back of its record-breaking figures and strong growth in quarter three in 2014 following the region’s hosting of the Grand Depart of the Tour de France.
In the first nine months of 2015 the top three markets for visits to the English regions, outside of London, were Germany, France and the Irish Republic. Looking at longer haul markets, visits from China to the regions were up 47% to 116,000 and Canada up 20% to 241,000.
The number of international visitors travelling to the Rest of England for business, and the amount they spent, rose 14% to 3m visits and £1.4m in the first nine months of 2015. Those visiting friends and relatives, and the amount they spent increased by 8%, to 4.4m visits and £1.8m spent compared to the same period in 2014. The number of holiday visits was on a par with the first nine months of 2014 at 3.2m.
The latest figures come as VisitBritain prepares to host its annual tourism event ExploreGB, this year being held in Liverpool, to attract even more international visitors to Britain.
More than 300 international buyers from 40 countries are set to do business with more than 300 travel trade suppliers from across England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland at the event being held from Thursday 3 to Friday 4 March at the city’s Arena and Convention Centre.