Weak pound draws in 3.5 million overseas visits to the UK in June

Rebecca Smith
The number of overseas visitors to London was a record 19.1m last year
The number of overseas visitors to London was a record 19.1m last year (Source: Getty)

The number of overseas visits to the UK rose seven per cent in June to a record of 3.5m, compared to the same time last year, as the weak pound continued to draw in tourists.

According to new figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the number of visitors from North America surged by more than a third.

Read more: Brexit tourists flock to London as number of overseas visitors tops 19m

As for how much they spent while they were in the UK, overseas residents shelled out £2.2bn on their visits to the UK, up two per cent on this time last year.

Howard Archer, chief economic advisor to the EY Item Club said the 35 per cent rise in North America was "clearly buoyed by the particularly sharp drop of the pound against the dollar since mid-2017". There was a more muted rise of two per cent in the number of visitors from Europe.

UK residents made considerably more visits abroad though, racking up 7.2m in June, an increase of four per cent against the same month last year, and spent £4.6bn while they were away. That's a 15 per cent rise on June 2016.

Overseas residents' visits to the UK and UK residents' visits abroad

Looking ahead, VisitBritain said the latest flight booking data from ForwardKeys shows that bookings for international arrivals to the UK from August to October are up nine per cent on the same period last year, while bookings from China and the US are up 20 per cent and 23 per cent respectively.

VisitBritain director Patricia Yates said:

Tourism is one of Britain’s most valuable export industries and this continued growth demonstrates the industry’s increasing importance as a key driver of economic growth across our nations and regions.

The tourism industry is making a compelling case to be one of the industries included in the government’s industrial strategy to ensure Britain continues to compete globally.

In May, figures from the ONS showed 19.1m visitors flocked to London last year, setting a record year.

And at the beginning of the year, payment processor Worldpay found "Brexit tourists" were taking advantage of the pound's slump by splurging on Britain's high streets.

Read more: Overseas firms holding their horses on UK investments because of Brexit

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