VisitBritain: tourism is an ‘economic powerhouse’

An extra £872 million in visitor spending was generated across the UK in the past year thanks to work by national tourism agency VisitBritain/VisitEngland.

Its figures show that for every pound invested in the organisation, £20 of additional visitor spend was generated for the economy.

Announced today at its 2016-17 annual review, the figures come on the back of strong growth from inbound tourism.

From January to July 2017, there were a record 23.1 million overseas visits to the UK, up 8% year-on-year, with visitors spending £13.3 billion, up 9%.

VisitBritain forecasts that overseas visits to the UK will increase 6% to 39.7 million in 2017 with spending up 14% to £25.7 billion by the end of this calendar year.

Brits are also taking more holidays at home: from January to June, domestic overnight holidays in England rose 7% year-on-year to a record 20.4 million, with visitors spending £4.6 billion, up 17% and another record.

John Glen, tourism minister, said: “Tourism contributes billions to the UK economy, supports millions of jobs and is the lifeblood for many communities across the country. We have seen record-breaking inbound visits and spend this summer, which is testament to our world-class attractions and the innovation of our tourism industry.”

Steve Ridgway (pictured) – chairman of VisitBritain/VisitEngland parent company British Tourist Authority – said the 16% fall in the exchange rate was making visiting Britain more attractive but had hit the overseas marketing budgets quite heavily.

He said: “Tourism is an economic powerhouse, worth £127 billion annually to the economy and a job creator right across Britain.

“Two and a half times bigger than the automotive industry and employing three million, tourism is one of our most successful exports and needs no trade deals to compete globally.”

However, he added: “You cannot just build a strong, resilient industry on a weaker currency. We must continue to invest in developing world-class tourism products, getting Britain on the wish-list of international and domestic travellers. And we must make it easy for visitors to make that trip.”

He said VisitBritain/VisitEngland partnerships helped to boost its message and generate more bookings.

It had secured £20 million cash and in-kind for its international marketing, working with commercial partners such as Expedia, the Premier League and British Airways and more than £2 million in kind from retail activities enabling product suppliers to reach international customers.