13 OCT 2017: Figures released by VisitBritain this week show strong growth in overseas visits and spend to the UK in the first six months of 2017. Tourism Minister John Glen said that towns and cities across the country are benefitting from this boom, and the increase in visits from North America shows that Britain remains a 'must visit' destination.

There was a record 19.2 million visits to the UK in the first half of 2017, up 9% compared to the start of 2016. Inbound visitors spent £10.8 ($17.8) billion between January and June 2017, the first time inbound visitor spending has topped £10 ($16.5) billion in the first half of any year and up 14% on the same time last year.

Growth was driven by strong visits from inbound markets such as Canada.

Q2 visits from Canada were up 9% to 244,000, with spend up 7% to £182 ($300) million. For the first six months of 2017, visits from Canada were up 17% over the same period of 2016.
VisitBritain executive vice president, Americas Gavin Landry said, “As one of our most valuable and fastest-growing industries, tourism plays a vital role in driving overseas visits and spend in Britain and creating a positive economic impact for our nations and regions.
“Britain continues to be a desirable destination for international travellers, with a range of world-class tourism products and unique experiences found across our eclectic cities, countryside and coastal villages. By promoting these iconic and unexpected opportunities to Canadian audiences, we are ensuring Britain stays competitive in the global tourism industry.”
Regions that saw high levels of growth for international visits and spend between January and June 2017 were London, the rest of England and Scotland, with London and Scotland both seeing record-breaking numbers.
London saw 10 million visits in the first half of 2017, up 14% with overseas spend increasing 16% to £6.1 ($10) billion when compared to the same time last year.

The rest of England (excluding London) saw an 8% increase in visits, reaching 4.5 million visits and overseas spend up 4% to £2.0 ($3.3) billion.

Visits to Scotland were up 14% to 1.3 million and overseas spend reached £956 million ($1.6 billion), up 35% on the same time last year.
Latest data from ForwardKeys shows that flight bookings for international arrivals to the UK for October to December are tracking 7% ahead when compared to the same period last year.
VisitBritain forecasts that overseas visits to the UK will reach 39.7 million with spending up of £25.7 ($42.4) billion by the end of this calendar year.
Tourism is worth £127 ($209) billion annually to the UK economy, creating jobs and boosting economic growth across the nations and regions.

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