VisitEngland reports strong growth

Visitors spent more than $1.32 billion in Britain last year as a result of activity by national tourism agency VisitBritain/VisitEngland, latest figures show.

This means that for every pound invested in the agency, visitors spent £25 in Britain. As well as the UK Government investment, the agency had attracted $17.1 million of investment in cash and in-kind from commercial partners and delivered $2.6 million profit from its online shop – money which is reinvested into its activities to grow the value of tourism.

The results, announced at the agency’s annual review, come on the back of a strong 2017 for inbound tourism. VisitBritain forecasts that it will beat its ambition of 40 million inbound visits by 2020 this year. Brits have also been taking more holidays at home with visits and spend up by 6 per cent in 2017.

UK minister for Tourism Michael Ellis said: “Britain’s tourism industry is booming. Last year was a very strong year for domestic and inbound tourism, with tens of billions of pounds going into our economy. The government, alongside VisitBritain/VisitEngland, is working with the sector to build on this success with an emphasis on attracting major business events and investing in local tourism projects through the Discover England Fund. As we approach the UK's exit from the European Union, we are absolutely committed to helping the industry continue to grow, promoting the country as a must-visit destination and ensuring that local communities benefit."

British Tourist Authority chairman Steve Ridgway CBE, pointed out that tourism is growing at a faster rate than digital industries, “Tourism is the country’s shop window to the world. A $168 billion powerhouse which continues to deliver for the British economy, creating jobs and driving economic growth right across the country. Our third largest service export, tourism needs no trade deals to prosper. Britain is already competing strongly in our most valuable visitor source markets such as the US and in markets that are crucial for our future including China.”

Ridgway continued: “We face a number of significant challenges, the most important the UK’s departure from the European Union. Whilst we address the initial fluctuations in currency and EU worker concerns, we soon will need to deal with the longer-term realities. We want to ensure that the future relationship keeps our borders as frictionless as possible for visitors, our aviation as connected as ever, and our economic stability on track – because tourism depends on this.”

Domestic tourism in England had also seen success from the growth in holidays to more frequent short-breaks. Domestic tourism accounted for almost 80 per cent of all tourism activity.

The Discover England Fund, launched by the UK Government to develop world-class bookable tourism products across England to attract the visitors of the future, launched 22 new schemes during the year. The agency had also seen success in securing more international business events for the UK, growing this valuable economic sector and driving more business throughout the year and across the country.