Tourists splash the cash despite weak economy

 
Julian Harris
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TOURISTS are brushing off the global economic slowdown, splashing more cash on their travels so far in 2013 than during the same period last year.

Both visitors to the UK and Britons travelling abroad are carrying fatter wallets, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said yesterday.

Overseas residents’ visits to the UK resulted in £6.88bn being earned for the country from January to May, the ONS‚Äącalculated – a 10 per cent rise on the same period in 2012. The number of visits grew by two per cent during the first five months of the year.

In the most recent months for which data is available, from March to May, earnings to the UK were £4.6bn – also up 10 per cent on the year-ago period – despite the number of visits being flat.

Patricia Yates, a director at Visit Britain, attributed the rise to positive publicity from last summer’s Olympic Games in London.

“The Olympic bounce has well and truly sprung with the best start to a year since 2008,” Yates said. “This has seen us achieve record breaking spend figures for 2013 to date and record visitor numbers for May and is proof that tourism continues to deliver the economic legacy of hosting the Games last year.”

The agency says that 2.6m jobs are supported by the tourism sector.

Business visits to the UK are also showing signs of picking up, rising by eight per cent in the three months to May, compared to March, April and May in 2012. In the whole year to May 2013, business trips to the UK were up by five per cent annualised.

Yet UK residents have also increased how much they spend on their trips abroad, albeit at a lesser rate.

Between January and May Britons spent five per cent more on their journeys than in January-May 2012 – with £11.8bn being spent. The number of trips abroad made by UK residents came in at just over 20m in the first five months of 2013, up two per cent on the same period in 2012.