The UK’s most frequent visitors are nowhere near its biggest spenders

Harriet Green
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Almost 33m people visited Britain last year - an increase of nearly 5.6 per cent since 2012.

What’s more (literally), is how much tourists spent: the amount jumped 12.7 per cent to £21bn last year, according to the Office for National Statistics.

Its Top 50 tourism infographic puts the number of visits to the UK against the amount spent: numbers and spend might both be going up, but it's not the most frequent visitors who spend the most.

In at number one, in terms of numbers, were the French, who made almost 4m visiting last year. Then Germans (just over 3m), Americans (nearly 3m) and those from the Irish Republic (2.4m).

When it came to spend, visitors from the Middle East - that’s not including the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Israel or Turkey - spent by far the most collectively: £173m.

UAE tourists came in second, shelling out £156m, with Egypt third, spending £149m.

In terms of numbers, however, those from the Middle East ranked 19th, with 379,000 visits last year. UAE tourists racked up 262,000 visits (25th place) and Egyptians were right at the bottom of the table - 50th place - making just 48,000 visits.

Nigeria was fourth in terms of spend (£143m), but 39th in terms of visits (154,000).

European visitors accounted for eight of the top 10 visiting countries when it came to numbers, with the US and Australia taking the other two spots.

But when it came to spend, they slid down the ranking, with just Norway, Denmark, Luxembourg and Switzerland making it into the top 20. Germany came in 32nd place (£74m), Italy 35th and France 37th (£71m). The Spanish spent £62m, putting them in 40th place.

Number of visitsSpend

France (3.9m)

Other Middle East (£173m)

Germany (3.5m)

UAE (£156m)

USA (2.8m)

Egypt (£149m)

Irish Republic (2.4m)

Nigeria (£143m)

Netherlands (1.9m)

Norway (142m)

Spain (1.7m)

Denmark (£140m)

Italy (1.66m)

Hong Kong (£136m)

Poland (1.4m)

Russia (£129m)

Belgium (1.9m)

Luxembourg (£125m)

Australia (1.1m)

Switzerland (£124m)

Norway (850,000)

Brazil (£121m)

Switzerland (816,000)

USA (£115m)

Sweden (794,000)

Other Asia (£107m)

Canada (744,000)

Sweden (£105m)

Denmark (703,000)

Thailand (£105m)

Other Asia (637,000)

Belgium (£104m)

Rest of Europe (482,000)

China (ex. Hong Kong) (£103m)

Romania (386,000)

Austria (£97m)

Other Middle East (379,000)

Turkey (£97m)

India (375,000)

Israel (£96m)


Last year, 16.8m overseas visitors came to the capital - that’s the highest recorded number since 1961.

Americans visited the most, with almost 2m trips made, then French, German and Italian tourists. Bar US and Australian visitors, those coming to London (in the top 10) all came from Europe.