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Visits to the UK in the first half of 2015 are 16.8 million, the highest recorded over the first six months of any year showing a five per cent increase over 2014.

In addition, visits to the UK by overseas visitors are three per cent higher in the twelve months to June 2015 compared to the previous twelve month period at 34.9 million.

In June the UK welcomed 3.23 million visitors, in line with the record set in June 2014.

The North American market continues to show recovery with an increase of 15 per cent during June compared to the previous year, with the number of visits four per cent higher in the first six months of 2015, compared to the start of 2014.

Business visits have set a new June record with 16 per cent growth in June 2015, compared to the same period in 2014.

Signs of a strengthening recovery may be reflected in business visits currently tracking 13 per cent more than they were in the first half of 2014 and showing double digit (month on month) growth in four of the first six months of this year.

Another record for the first six months of any year has been set by the 9.8 million visits from the UK’s largest visit-generating region, the EU15 countries with more than half of all overseas visits, 58 per cent, a three per cent increase than in the first half of 2014.

Spending throughout the first six months of 2015 reflects the impact of exchange rate shifts, in particular, strong sterling compared to the euro.

Overseas visitors spent £2.1 billion (in nominal terms) while in the UK during June, one per cent below the record June 2014.

However, overseas visitor spending remained on-par with the first six months of 2014, which closed as a record spending year.

Patricia Yates, director of strategy and communications said: “Tourism continues to be one of Britain’s most successful industries, where we are competing in an environment of shifting exchange rates.

“It is also positive to see continued return to growth from North America market, our most valuable market, and business visitors.”