Visitors to Britain spent £23 for every £1 invested in promoting the country, new figures estimate.
Promotion by VisitBritain and VisitEngland meant visitors spent £951 million in Britain in the last financial year. This figure was part of the overall total 2019 expected spend of £25 billion. Spend this year is predicted to reach a record £26.6 billion.
During the last decade, inbound tourism to the UK has grown 33%, with spending up 58%. The number of overseas visits to the UK is forecast to rise this year to 39.7 million, the highest ever, up 2.9% on 2019.
VisitBritain and VisitEngland are targeting 49 million visitors by 2025, with spending reaching £35 billion.
British Tourist Authority chairman Steve Ridgway said: “If you include domestic tourism, the industry is worth £127 billion, employing 3.1 million people in every part of the country. For every 22 inbound visits from China for example, one job is created in Britain’s tourism industry. And this is an industry that attracts international investment too; 2018 saw £6.8 billion invested in British hotels, outperforming the rest of Europe.”
Brexit has led to a slowing of growth from Europe, and VisitBritain will launch a new campaign in the spring aimed at informing European visitors about the practicalities of travel after the UK’s departure from the EU. However, the downturn from Europe is being balanced by increased numbers from the US and newer markets such as China.
Domestic tourism had also been fuelled by strong growth in short breaks. Domestic tourism accounts for almost 80% of all tourism activity, with about £72 billion spent annually in England. This growth has been supported by the Discover England Fund launched in 2015, which has helped bring 60 new projects and 700 products to market.
Tourism minister Helen Whatley added: “The UK tourism industry is one of our great success stories and contributes billions to the UK economy each year. I’m delighted to see it going from strength to strength.
“With so much to offer – exciting cultural and sporting events, outstanding historic sites and scenery and a great welcome for visitors – there’s a host of reasons why the UK continues to be one of the world’s top tourist destinations year after year.”