New analysis from VisitBritain has revealed that more international tourists are starting to travel across the country than ever before, with spending hitting new record levels in the majority of nations and regions for the first nine months of 2014.
According to new figures from the Office for National Statistics, in the first nine months of 2014 overseas tourist spending reached new records in Wales (£303 million), Scotland (£1.5 billion), London (£8.9 billion), East of England (£693 million), North West (£849 million) and the South East (£1.7 billion).
Compared to the same period in 2013, from January to September 2014 overseas visits grew at a faster rate to Wales (14 per cent), Scotland (12 per cent) and Yorkshire (12 per cent, reaching a new record of 1.08 million) than they did to London (six per cent).
These uplifts are likely to have been enhanced by Yorkshire’s hosting of the Tour de France Grand Départ in July, President Obama’s attendance at the NATO Summit in Newport in September and the 2014 UEFA Super Cup in Cardiff in August.
Wales saw strong uplift from its top inbound tourism source markets compared to the same time last year, with the biggest volume of visits - 121,000 - coming from the Republic of Ireland (up 18 per cent), while visits from Australia were up nine per cent to a new record, USA up two per cent and both Sweden and Spain showing continued strong growth from 2013, up 40 per cent and 39 per cent respectively.
Spending by overseas visitors to London during January to September 2014 reached £8.9 billion, equating to the strongest nine-month period on record.
Overseas visits from London’s three biggest markets all increased in the first nine months of 2014: USA up six per cent, France up four per cent and Germany up ten per cent.
The first nine months of 2014 - covering the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in August and the Ryder Cup at Gleneagles in September - equated to a very positive period for Scotland, with volume of visits up 12 per cent and value up seven per cent compared to 2013.
Visits from a number of countries to Scotland - Germany, Australia, Netherlands, Norway and Denmark - all reached new records. Significant growth in visits came from Sweden – 109 per cent - and the USA (37 per cent), which also reached a new Scotland record of £370 million.
Spend from Australia (£111 million) and China (£57 million) also hit new records, whilst China saw massive growth in spend overall at 68 per cent.
Both short and long haul source countries showed overall growth in tourism to Britain in the first nine months.
In all three quarters of 2014 visits, nights and spend from the USA all posted increases compared to the same period in 2013.
In the nine months to September there were 2.4 million visits from the US, eight per cent more than last year, while spending increased 14 per cent to £2.3 billion – a new record.
There was also a sharp increase in nights spent in Britain by visitors from the USA (27 per cent) resulting in the average length of stay for a USA visitor increasing from 8 nights per visits in 2013 to 9.3 in 2014.
The UK too has seen recovery in visits and spending from its closest European neighbours.
Patricia Yates, director of strategy and communications, VisitBritain, said: “Inbound tourism is an export industry at which Britain is demonstrably successful, with further growth predicted this year.
“VisitBritain will continue to focus on the rebalancing of this growing industry in 2015 to benefit the whole country.
“Next week we will launch a £3 million Countryside is GREAT campaign to showcase the beauty of our countryside – from Cornwall to the Lake District, Pembrokeshire to the Scottish Highlands.
“We also secured £4 million of advertising space in Heathrow airport to promote travel on from London and will continue to work with regional gateways such as Manchester and Birmingham to spread valuable inbound tourists to the nations and regions in record numbers.”