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Record number of overseas visitors to the United Kingdom in 2017

Brexit and the weak pound attract record numbers of overseas visitors (holidaymakers, business travellers and people visiting family and friends) to the United Kingdom in 2017 as tourists were enticed by the fall in sterling, according to official figures.


Hotels, travel companies and tourist attractions benefited from over 39 million visitors from all over the world, an increase of 4% from 2016 and the highest number ever. Record numbers visited from China, India, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United States, Australia and the European Union.


Despite an uncertain economic and political climate, visitors were drawn by the hospitality and leisure businesses, as well as to the retail sector.


The Tower of London (2.74million – home and overseas visitors) was the most visited paid attraction, while the most visited free attraction was the British museum in London.

While London remains the most popular destination, Stonehenge, Chester Zoo and the Lake District are also attracting larger numbers of visitors than in previous years.


According to the Office for National Statistics, spending by overseas visitors also set a new record in 2017, rising by 9% to £24.5 billion.


According to Tourism minister Michael Ellis, visitors to the United Kingdom generate a total of £127 billion for the economy every year. While the government’s tourism authority is working to sustain this growth and encourage international visitors to travel around the UK, ensuring that more communities can benefit and deliver economic growth across the country.


Visits from the United States increased by 13% to 3.9 million, the highest since 2000, with American spending up 9% to a record £3.6 billion.


Gulf state visitors (812,000) total spend increased by 55% to £2.2 billion; accounting a staggering 9% of total spending. Investments in the property market from the Gulf states remains strong as their currency is pegged to the dollar.


There were also 1.1 million from Australia in 2017, an increase of 11%, with spending up 13% to £1.2 billion.


Chinese visitor numbers were up 29% to a record 337,000 last year, with spending up 35% to £694 million.


Europe however remains the most important market for the tourism industry, accounting more than 67% of all visitors to the United Kingdom, with France’s visit numbers reaching almost 4 million in 2017.


To take advantage of the weak pound, contact our team for investment opportunities in the United Kingdom.