Rise in Amer­i­can tourists thanks to ‘Brexit ef­fect’ and weak pound

The Daily Telegraph - - News - By Katie Mor­ley CON­SUMER AF­FAIRS EDI­TOR

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.”

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