First drop in UK overseas visitor numbers since 2001
July 20, 2009
The number of visitors to the UK from overseas fell by 2.7 per cent, to 31.9 million, and the deficit in tourist spending increased to a record high of £20.5 billion last year.
This was the first time in seven years the number of overseas visitors, entering the UK on either business or holiday purposes, has declined – although spending by individuals was higher.
In addition, Britons went on fewer overseas trips in 2008, confirming the “staycationing” trend, as a result of the economic downturn and the credit crunch. Those who did travel abroad chose the traditionally-favoured destinations of Spain and France. These two choices were followed by the US, the Republic of Ireland and Italy.
Last year’s tourism figures were published in the Travel Trends report compiled by the Office for National Statistics (ONS). The report showed 31.9 million fewer visits to the UK by foreigners last year, which was down by 2.7 per cent from 2007.
The decline constituted the first fall in visitor numbers since 2001, when the foot and mouth disease outbreak combined with the September 11 terrorist attacks in the US led to a major drop off in the number of visitors to the UK.
Figures for the report are compiled from the results of an ongoing survey of international passengers at major airports, sea ports and tunnels, with over 250,000 travellers to the UK participating annually.
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