Number of trips to the UK hits a record of 32.8m

MORE people travelled to the United Kingdom last year than in any year on record, according to official figures published yesterday, as visits surpass levels seen before the financial crisis.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) says there were 32.8m visits to the UK last year, a 5.6 per cent increase from 2012 and the most ever recorded by the International Passenger Survey, which began in 1961.

There were far more visits by UK residents out of the country, at 58.5m, but that figure is still yet to return to its pre-crash peak levels – 69.5m trips were made in 2006.

The amount spent by visitors to the UK is also at the highest ever, rapidly rising by 12.7 per cent from 2012 to reach £21bn last year. UK residents’ spending overseas rose by 7.6 per cent in the same period, up to £34.9bn.

More than half the money spent by visitors goes to the capital: overseas residents spent £11.3bn during their 16.8m overnight visits here last year, an 8.6 per cent increase even despite the effect of the Olympics in 2012. London is around thirteen times as popular for trips than Edinburgh, the next most visited city in the UK.

Despite the recovery-driven improvement in the number of trips made to the UK, the share made up by business travel is still down from pre-crisis levels. Trips for holiday purposes are picking up the slack.