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UK visitor spending habits revealed

UK visitor spending habits revealed

Detailed information has been released about the spending habits of UK inbound visitors, revealing the USA dominates UK inbound market spend.

According to the International Passenger Survey, over 37.6 million people visited the UK in 2016 (a four per cent increase on 2015), spending £22.5 billion (an increase of two per cent).

Spending peaked in July and August with overall spending in the second half of 2016 higher than in the first half, as the exchange rate remained favourable for inbound visitors.

Overall, Gulf state visitors were the most lucrative, with all six GCC markets in the top ten for highest spend per visitor.

At the same time, visitors from the Nordics, Benelux countries, USA, Italy and Spain rank eating out highly, with their restaurant spend, as a proportion of total spend, significantly higher than the global average.


UKinbound chief executive officer, Deirdre Wells, said: “The findings provide a valuable insight regarding inbound visitors’ spending habits and provide further evidence of the incredible contribution that tourism makes to the UK economy. 

“Further understanding our visitors will allow our members to tailor their itineraries, products and services, ensuring the UK remains a world class tourism destination.”

The survey revealed visitors from Denmark, South Korea and Israel spend significantly more on live entertainment, relative to total spend, than the global average, while visitors from China, Hong Kong and Thailand like to buy UK products.

Retail accounts for over half of the value of all transactions made by these visitors.

John Glen, minister for arts, heritage and tourism in the UK, said: “The money tourists spend goes into our local communities, creates jobs and helps preserve our world class heritage sites.

“These findings will increase our understanding of just what visitors to the UK spend their money on and will help the tourism sector ensure their offer is as strong as possible.

“The UK tourism industry is enjoying a good period of growth and I will do all I can to help that continue.”

Finally, Latin American visitors enjoy the UK’s tourist attractions and exhibitions.

This market tends to spend a higher proportion than the global average on this category

VisitBritain chief executive officer, Sally Balcombe, said: “We want Britain to be top of people’s list as a ‘must-go now’ destination.

“Understanding more about what our visitors want, and getting a fast read out of where they spend their money, will ensure we get the right products to them at the right time.

“The insights from this type of research are invaluable for the industry and crucial for us staying a competitive travel destination.”