UK tourism hits record high as weak pound lures overseas holidaymakers

UK tourism hits record high as weak pound lures overseas holidaymakers

More international tourists visited the UK in July than during any month on record, as a slump in the pound sharpened the country’s appeal as a holiday destination.

Over 4 million visits to the UK from overseas were recorded during the month, up 6 per cent on the same month in 2016, according to the Office for National Statistics.

Overseas visitors spent £2.8bn in July, also representing the highest amount for a month since records began in 1961.

“Tourism is a major economic force that creates jobs and drives growth for the whole of the country. These record figures show the continued strength of this important sector and the UK’s global position as a must-visit destination,” said tourism minister John Glen.

Patricia Yates, director at the national tourism agency Visit Britain, said that the figures demonstrate why tourism is one of the country’s most valuable export industries and that it is “an increasingly important driver of economic growth across our nations and regions”. 

Inbound tourism has proved robust all year, largely driven by a dramatic slump in the value of the pound since the Brexit vote, especially against currencies like the euro and the US dollar.

There were 2.9 million overseas visits from North America between January and July, marking a 21 per cent increase on the same period last year. A total of 15.1 million overseas visits were recorded from EU countries, the UK’s largest visitor-generating region, representing a 4 per cent rise on the same period last year. Combined visits from Australia, China, the Gulf markets and India, were up 18 per cent to a record 3.6 million during the first seven months of the year.

Tourism is worth approximately £127bn annually to the UK economy.