LONDON: Predictions of a tourism surge in Brexit Britain, fuelled by a weaker pound making the destination more affordable to overseas visitors, proved accurate for 2016 as 37.3 million inbound tourists visited the UK.
A 3 per cent rise on 2015’s figures, visitors also spent £22.2bn (US$27.3bn, €25.9bn) in the UK, matching record figures from the previous year.
In North America, Britain’s strongest market, visitor numbers rose by 7 per cent, with 4.3 million people visiting from the US and Canada. In Europe, there were a record 25.3 million visitors, an increase of 4 per cent year-on-year.
“The strong growth in inbound visits demonstrates British tourism’s continued ability to compete for international visitors and deliver economic growth across our nations and regions,” said Visit Britain CEO, Sally Balcombe.
“We must seize the opportunity to build on this, boosting visitor spending by driving home the message of welcome and value particularly in our high spending markets such as China and the US and the valuable European market.”
Britain’s tourism market is worth an estimated £127bn (US$156bn, €148bn) annually, creating jobs and boosting economic growth across its nations and regions. In August last year, the country’s government unveiled a series of measures designed to boost the domestic tourism sector, capitalising on the weakened pound to help Britain become the choice destination for tourists.
Dubbed the Tourism Action Plan, the new initiatives are designed to help Britain become the choice destination for tourists, welcoming more international visitors than ever before and increasing the number of “staycations” as Brits opt to holiday on home soil.