The numbers, released yesterday by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), coincided with the launch of a government programme designed to convince Britons to holiday at home, rather than looking overseas.
Allowing for seasonal adjustments, UK residents’ visits abroad were down eight per cent in March compared to the same month a year earlier.
On an unadjusted basis, the number of trips abroad in the first quarter were down one per cent, the ONS said – although those who made trips spent, overall, one per cent more than a year earlier.
By contrast, unadjusted numbers of incoming visitors were up by two per cent in the first three months of the year. “And they spent 11 per cent more on these visits,” the ONS said.
Business visits are helping to boost the numbers, it said, growing by five per cent in the past 12 months compared with a year earlier.
Maria Miller, the coalition’s secretary of state for culture, media and sport, yesterday launched a £4m marketing campaign designed to persuade people to stay in Britain for their holidays.
“I’m delighted that we’re thinking innovatively about how to promote Britain and the new ‘Great Adventure’ campaign, starring the much-loved Wallace and Gromit, will showcase fantastic UK holiday destinations,” Miller said.
The campaign will feature TV adverts and a new website.