London has overtaken Paris as the most popular city in the world for overseas tourists. Image: VisitBritain

Overseas visitors spent a record £21bn in UK last year

Geraldine Kendall, 14.05.2014
Latest ONS statistics show new high for tourism sector
The UK is experiencing a boom in overseas tourism, according to the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics.

The statistics show that foreign visitors spent a record £21bn in the UK in 2013, up almost 13% on the previous year.

The number of visits from overseas residents reached 32.8m, a rise of 5.6% on 2012.

The figures reveal a 9.7% increase in visits from Chinese residents, while visitor numbers from India, Germany, Australia and South Korea are also on the rise. There was a small decline of 0.3% in visitors from North America.

Brighton, Bath, York, Nottingham, Aberdeen and Southampton all experienced strong growth in tourism numbers last year, according to the survey.

The top seven UK cities for overseas visitors were London, Edinburgh, Manchester, Birmingham, Liverpool, Glasgow and Oxford.

Visits to Scotland and Wales increased by 9.8% and 3.5% respectively, after falls in 2012.

The figures show that London has overtaken Paris as the most popular city in the world for overseas tourists, attracting its highest number of visitors last year since records began.

The capital welcomed 16.8m overseas residents in 2013. Visitor spend hit £11.2bn, accounting for more than half the total spent by visitors in the UK as a whole.

Tourism minister Helen Grant said: “This shows how strongly our tourism sector is performing, playing a vital role in the economy’s upturn.

“I am also encouraged at the increasing number of Chinese tourists that are visiting the UK given the hard work we have put in to target that market. Now it’s about keeping up the momentum.”

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