The Daily Telegraph

Sterling effort

- By Tim Wallace

Weak pound keeps Britain on the tourist trail

HOTELS, restaurant­s and shops are benefiting from a jump in visits from foreign tourists coming to the UK to make the most of the weak pound.

The rise in tourism is emblematic of the improvemen­t in exports which economists hope will support the economy through any turmoil in the Brexit process.

Sterling dropped by around 15pc against the currencies of the UK’s trading partners following the referendum vote to leave the EU, making British goods cheaper abroad and boosting the profits of exporting companies.

Just this week the Bank of England said businesses it speaks to were reporting stronger levels of demand from tourists.

More than 2.8 m overseas residents visited the UK in January, up 11pc on the same month a year ago, according to the Office for National Statistics.

Visitors also spent more while in the UK, splurging a total of £1.5bn on the trips, a rise of 15pc on the year. The amount each person spent was up on average by 6pc on the year to £536.

“The data from the ONS indicate that the sharply weakened pound is encouragin­g more visits to the UK from abroad and more spend by visitors,” said Howard Archer, chief UK and European economist at IHS Markit.

“This is especially true of North America, which ties in with the pound’s fall being most pronounced against the US dollar,” he added.

The vast majority of visitors to Britain come from Europe – 2.2m of the 2.8m in January – while 240,000 came from North America and 460,000 from the rest of the world.

The trend is more pronounced than just a single month of improvemen­t. Over the three months to January compared with the same period a year earlier, visits from North America were up 19pc and those from Europe up 13pc.

Meanwhile, a total of 4.6 m Britons went abroad in January, up 9pc.

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