Rise in American tourists thanks to ‘Brexit effect’ and weak pound
THE “Brexit effect” has seen the biggest increase in American tourists coming to the UK since the Eighties.
The past six months have seen a 25 per cent rise in visitors from North America compared to the first half of last year, the Office for National Statistics revealed.
In June alone, there were a record 650,000 visits, up 35 per cent on the same month last year, it showed.
And in an indication that the terror attacks that took place in London and Manchester over the period did not deter tourists, the majority of overseas visits were for holiday purposes, an increase of 20 per cent on a year earlier.
A spokesman at Visit Britain said the influx of US tourists over the past year was largely down to a “Brexit effect”.
He said: “The vote to leave the EU has put the UK in the international spotlight, so there is definitely more awareness and more awareness leads to more trips.
“Because the pound has fallen against the euro, the UK is now certainly a more affordable place to visit, which also helps.
“Meanwhile the US economy has boomed, so people are taking advantage by going on holiday.”
Despite a huge rise in US tourists, two thirds of the international visitors enjoying London’s sites, Cornwall’s beaches and Edinburgh’s Royal Mile are from the rest of the European Union. Overall, the number of overseas visits to the UK for January to June this year hit a record-breaking 19.1million, up 9 per cent compared to the same period in 2016.
During this time, overseas visitors provided a welcome boost to the economy by spending a record £10.6billion, up 11 per cent on 2016.
Last year, a record-breaking 7.3million people chose to holiday in England, while bookings to Egypt, Turkey, Brussels and Paris fell significantly.
The choice to remain in Britain, known as the “staycation” effect, has meant that workers have pumped billions of pounds back into the UK, further boosting the economy.
Meanwhile, data from Forward Keys, which tracks flight bookings, suggests international arrivals to the UK will be 9 per cent higher for August to October this year compared to the same period last year.
Patricia Yates, the director of Visitbritain, said: “Tourism is one of Britain’s most valuable export industries and this continued growth demonstrates the industry’s increasing importance as a key driver of economic growth across our nations and regions.
“The tourism industry is making a compelling case to be one of the industries included in the Government’s industrial strategy to ensure Britain continues to compete globally. We have already revised our forecast upwards for 2017.”