VisitBritain has announced new figures showing the UK saw record annual inbound spend and record numbers of visits in 2013.
Overseas visitors spent a record £21 billion in 2013, some 13 per cent more than the previous record from 2012.
This is the highest seen in any 12 month period in nominal terms, and the first time the £20 billion mark has been passed.
There were also 32.89 million visits from overseas in 2013, six per cent more than in 2012, exceeding the previous calendar year record set in 2007.
Visits from all world regions and for all main journey purposes showed growth compared to 2012 with the 2013 records largely driven by a particularly strong summer and early autumn.
The calendar year also saw record levels for holiday visits (seven per cent above 2012 and six per cent above the previous record from 2011).
Business and VFR visits both saw their best calendar year since 2008, with business visits up seven per cent and VFR up five per cent on 2012.
Last year also saw record visits for a calendar year from ‘Rest of World’ markets (outside Europe / North America), with ten per cent more visits from these typically high spending visitors than in 2012.
The high volume EU15 markets saw an increase of five per cent in visits in 2013 compared to 2012, making it the best calendar year since 2007, though not a record.
Visits from other EU markets saw a notable increase (up 15 per cent) in 2013 compared to 2012 but visits were just below record levels.
Sandie Dawe, chief executive, VisitBritain said: “Not only have we managed to surpass the £20bn barrier for the very first time, but we’ve broken records for Holidaymakers and visitors from key growth markets such as China and South Korea.
“Our international tourists are starting to see and do more across the country, which tells us that our GREAT campaign is not only working, but influencing travel too.
“Holiday figures are up across the whole of Britain with robust growth for Scotland, Wales, Rest of England and London.
“Every pound invested in our tourism marketing results in visitors spending £19 in this country.
“The financial benefits from inbound tourism are clear for everyone to see.”