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There has been much conjecture over the potential impact of Brexit on the UK tourism sector since the EU referendum. One thing is for certain, all of the statistics now being released on last year’s visitor numbers are incredibly encouraging.
Recent reports have largely focussed on the perceived renaissance in domestic travel and the ‘staycation’. Whilst now a rise in overseas travel that is also being celebrated. The latest industry statistics from Visit England, with a 3% increase on 2015 meaning more than 37.3 million tourists flocked to our shores in 2016.
Let’s take a more in-depth look at where these visitors are coming from, and the potential reasons underpinning this upturn…
Visitor numbers up
Although the UK continues to be a popular holiday destination for many around the world, it’s those travelling from across the Atlantic that have seen the largest increase. A whopping 4.3 million US citizens visited the UK in 2016, a 7% increase on the previous year.
The reason for this may have been the competitive exchange rates between the two countries during this period. Thus allowing Americans seeking a slice of Britain competitive rates on accommodation and other expenditure during their time here.
EU Visits break previous records
Despite the United Kingdom opting to leave the European Union in June, visits from the other 27 member states broke the record books for a second consecutive year. 25.3 million visits were made from our European counterparts, an increase of 4% on the figures enjoyed in 2015.
VisitBritain Chief Executive Sally Balcombe said: “The strong growth in inbound visits demonstrates British tourism’s continued ability to compete for international visitors and deliver economic growth across our nations and regions.
“We must seize the opportunity to build on this, boosting visitor spending by driving home the message of welcome and value particularly in our high spending markets such as China and the US and the valuable European market.”
Winter trips increased
Holiday visits to the UK saw a boost towards the end of the year, resulting in an 11% increase between October and December. That’s 3.2 million visits during the winter season and a large area of growth for many accommodation providers.
It also looks like Brits have been inviting their nearest and dearest to join them on holiday. Inbound visits to friends and relatives rose a huge 10% to 11.5 million visits. The vast majority of these visits were made outside of the Greater London area, which commands a large proportion of international visits and is a great indicator of the growing strength of the UK’s tourism market.
2016’s end of year surge gives a positive outlook for 2017, despite uncertainties surrounding Britain’s exit from the European Union. January 2017 saw an 11% rise on visitors from the previous year. This adds further indication that Britain’s tourism industry is set to have yet another fruitful year. Let’s hope for plenty of sunshine to help it along the way!
For more information on what this year could hold, read our previous post on UK inbound tourism in 2017.
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