Statistics & Updates

2017 World Economic Forum Tourism Competitiveness Survey

Published every two years, the recent survey shows that the UK has retained its position as the 5th most competitive destination in the world behind Spain, France, Germany and Japan. Amongst other ratings, the UK’s international openness has slipped from 11th to 20th, the UK’s Tourism Service Infrastructure has improved markedly from 37th to 7th due to major up-ratings of rental car companies and ATM availability. The full survey is at

First Quarter Growth

The latest figures released by VisitBritain show strong growth from markets including the US, Germany and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in the first quarter of 2016, underpinning the best ever first quarter for total inbound visits. The Office for National Statistics results show that from January to March this year visits from the US, the UK’s most valuable visitor market, grew by 9% compared to the same period last year, visits from Europe were up by 10% and those from the UAE grew by 15% to 77,000, Meanwhile visits from China, the world’s largest outbound market, were on par with last year’s record first quarter, putting the market on track for another good year. London received a record 3.8 million visits from overseas travellers in the first three months this year, an increase of seven per cent, when compared to the same period in 2015.

Spending by international travellers during this period, which included cultural highlights like Lumiere London, a unique light festival which lit up the West End and Kings Cross, was over £2.2billion, an increase of four per cent compared to the same period last year.

GBTS Reveal Upward Trend

The latest Great Britain Tourism Survey figures show both trips and spend up by 7% over 2014, reversing a three year decline in domestic visits and a two year decline in domestic tourism expenditure. Seasides and rural destinations are seeing the largest increases in trips and expenditure with Bed and Breakfast suppliers and Camping/Caravanning, the fastest growing accommodation sectors. The West Midlands in the fastest growth region  with a 32% increase!

GTOA to become AGTO

The Group Travel Organisers Association (GTOA), celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2016, has a new name and logo. Unveiled at the GTOA AGM in Northampton, the new look includes a name change for the organisation to the Association of Group Travel Organisers (AGTO).

Heathrow Expansion

Following the announcement of the government’s decision to build a new runway at Heathrow various travel industry groups including Ukinbound have broadly supported the decision. However, interested parties such as bmi regional, urge that the government ensures that regional connectivity remains a priority and that the potential capacity of regional gateways is not overlooked.

Heritage Tourism

A new report from the Heritage Lottery Fund, The Impact of Heritage Tourism for the UK economy 2016, shows that overseas visitors to the UK’s cultural, historic and natural heritage attractions spend more than double per visit compared to their domestic overnight counterparts. In 2015, overseas visitor spend on heritage trips totalled £7.4 billion and reveals an 18% increase in international visits since 2013.

International #CallBrussels Campaign to Reassure Tourists

Visit Brussels has announced plans for a quirky campaign to reassure tourists following the ‘lockdown’ and terror scares at the end of last year. Aimed at its major markets, including the UK, the campaign will see telephone boxes positioned in three landmarks – the Mont des Arts, the Place Flagey and the Place Communale in Molenbeek. Foreign tourists can call the telephone boxes, via a special website – – and passers-by will be able to answer their questions. Webcams will film the surroundings and the interactions will be broadcast live on the website.

International Passenger Survey

February’s IPS figures are positive showing the UK received 2.3 million overseas visitors in the month equalling the total for last February, and the year to date is up 6% compared to 2016, which is a new record. Year on year figures show that for the last 12 months period, visits are 37.6 million and are 3% above the comparative previous 12-month period, and this is a new record for the highest volume of visits in any 12 month period.

IPS November Figures

The Office for National Statistics’ International Passenger Survey (IPS) figures for November show how that visitor numbers are up 4% but that spend by overseas visitors is static at 0% (this is due to the strengthening of the pound against the Euro in 2015) so the year will end with a record number of overseas visitors if not necessarily a record in visitor expenditure. Visits from North America are up 7% – after years of decline in the UK’s biggest single market. Outbound trips and spend are up 8% and 8% respectively – unusually, both outbound and domestic tourism are increasing at about the same rate at the same time.

Visits to UK Visitor Attractions up 7.2%

The Association of Leading Visitor Attractions (ALVA) has announced its members’ visitor figures for 2016 noting an overall increase across the UK of 7.2%. The figures suggest that tourists are preferring to visit venues outside of the capital – a change that could indicate visitors’ concerns of potential terrorist attacks in major city centres. Nevertheless, London attractions filled the top 11 positions with The British Museum continuing to be the most popular visitor attraction overall for the 10th year running, although numbers were down from 2015, Remaining in second place was the National Gallery with Tate Modern in third place. Outside of the top 11, Kew Gardens, at 13th overall, recorded an increase of 18.6% over last year and the Royal Academy (23rd) saw a 17% increase.

The most visited attraction outside London was Chester Zoo (12th) and the most visited attractions in Scotland were the National Museum of Scotland – which opened 10 new galleries in 2016 – and Edinburgh Castle (15th and 16th).

Amongst other attractions recording increases were Merseyside Maritime Museum with visitors up 27% and Titanic Belfast recorded a 9.4% increase. Cornwall saw a record number of visitors in 2016, notably at Tintagel Castle where there was a 19% increase as a result of new interpretation and a groundbreaking archaeological research project, and the completed Mary Rose Museum at the Historic Dockyard in Portsmouth saw a 39% increase over 2015.

The National Trust saw good growth at many of its properties due to creative events and programming, while The Churches Conservation Trust recorded 422,714 visitors to their top 10 properties combined, an increase reflecting the first Church Tourism week and huge popularity of ‘Champing’ (Church camping).  English Heritage had an average increase among its top sites of 6%, with Battle Abbey (160th) recording growth of 29% – linked to the 950th anniversary of the Battle of Hastings, and included the sell-out re-enactment of the battle in October.

  • The IPS figures from the Office of National Statistics for January indicate that inbound
    visitor numbers to the UK are already up by 11% with spend up 15% compared to last year. This continues the trend for the previous three months, which show an increase of 13% and 8% respectively. The increase in inbound spend is significantly driven by visitors from North America – up by some 19% over the last three months. Outbound tourism is still rising too – with numbers up 9% and spend up 5%.