Britain received 31.1 million visitors last year, a one per cent increase on the figure for 2011, making it the best year for inbound tourism since 2008.
Those visitors that did come also spent more, with some £18.6 billion changing hands, a four per cent increase on 2011 and a record high in nominal terms.
Despite this, VisitBritain recorded a five per cent slip in visitor numbers during August last year, largely due to holidaymakers who did not have tickets for the London 2012 Olympic Games deciding to delay or cancel trips.
Sports fans who did make the journey to the UK were happy to spend money, however, with the organisation recording a nine per cent increase in tourism revenue in August last year, despite the fall in visitor numbers.
VisitBritain chief executive Sandie Dawe was also quick to hail the success of the Olympics in changing perceptions of the UK in international markets.
“The Olympic Games worked as a tremendous advert for the United Kingdom and its tourism industry.
“It was everything we could have wished for in that respect,” said Dawe.
Momentum was also maintained into 2013, added Dawe, with “double digit” increases in spending recorded in the first four months of the year.
Sport seems set to continue to dominate the agenda, with the Ryder Cup coming to Gleneagles in Scotland in 2014, followed by the Rugby League World Cup in 2015 and the Commonwealth Games in 2017.
VisitBritain hopes to attract 40 million international visitors per year by 2020, with a concurrent nine per cent increase in total spend.
However, despite recent successes, VisitBritain saw its budget cut by five per cent yesterday.