The tourism sector is expected to show strong growth in 2015, as it continues to support Britain’s economic resurgence, as part of the government’s long term economic plan, culture secretary Sajid Javid said earlier.
Forecasts from tourism body VisitBritain predict that inbound tourism spend will rise by 4.5 per cent in 2015 with visitors from overseas expected to spend £22.2 billion – an increase of almost £1 billion on 2014.
Spend is forecast to be £21.3 billion for this year.
Sustained effort over the last few years with the government’s investment in the GREAT campaign – to sell Britain to key markets around the world - and a simplified visa system to encourage more high spending tourists from China to visit the UK are making a significant impact.
Javid said: “The tourism sector is driving economic growth for Britain.
“The Olympic Games and Diamond Jubilee gave us a great platform to showcase the best of Britain but we didn’t stop there and have kept up the momentum in the last two years.
“Britain has so much to offer tourists with our stunning countryside, great heritage and world class sport and culture.
“Working closely with the tourism industry we will continue to champion the UK abroad as part of our long term economic plan.”
The UK’s heritage is seen as our greatest asset to attract travellers from all over the world.
Buckingham Palace, Scottish and Welsh Castles, Stonehenge and a Premier League match are the top five must-sees for a person visiting from China.
Norwegian, French, German and American visitors also all cite British heritage as the main reason to explore the country.
Other attractions outside of London riding high in the top attractions lists include Chester Zoo, the National Railway Museum in York, Portsmouth’s Historic Dockyards and the Tate Museum in St Ives.
Growth from Chinese tourists has been particularly strong in the last four years.
They spent £492 million in 2013, up from £184 million in 2010.
Over that period the number of visits from Chinese people rose by 79.1 per cent to 196,000.
The government is also encouraging more visitors from Mexico to visit Britain in 2015 - which is also the ‘Year of Mexico’ - where both countries look to showcase their best culture arts and creative industries.
The number of visits from Mexicans has climbed from 67,000 in 2010 to 108,000 in 2013 and there is to be a further push in the coming months.
Mexico’s neighbour – the United States of America – is still by far the nation that spends the most on trips to the UK – splashing out £2.5 billion in 2013, up 19.4 per cent on 2010 (£2.1 billion) as their love affair with Britain continues, helped by the success of hit dramas like Downton Abbey and Sherlock Stateside.
Spend by visitors from France and Germany has also grown strongly in the four years to 2013 – up 18.2 per cent and 18 per cent to £1.35 billion and £1.4 billion respectively.
The French visit Britain the most, with 3.9 million visits in 2013, up 8.6 per cent on 2010 while Germany is second, with 3.1 million visits in 2013, up 5.3 per cent compared to 2010.
Sally Balcombe, chief executive of VisitBritain added: “Tourism will continue to be one of the country’s major export earners with VisitBritain playing a critical role in its success.
“One of our priorities for 2015 will be to inspire international visits to the nations and regions and showcase Britain’s magnificent countryside.
“Our GREAT campaign continues to produce results and generated at least £1.8 billion from inbound visitors in its first three years, creating economic value and jobs across Britain’s tourism businesses.”
As well as spend rising the number of visits from people from overseas is expected to increase with 35.1 million trips expected in 2015, up 2.5 per cent on 2014, as tourists flock to enjoy the best of Britain.