07242017

Weak pound sees surge in tourists visiting UK

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The delights of Wales proved a particular attraction to visitors

The weakness of sterling was behind a surge in the number of tourists visiting the UK in the first three months of 2017, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The number of holidaymakers coming to the UK rose by 21.1% – although the number of business visitors declined.

Overall there were a record 8.3 million visits in the quarter, a rise of nearly 10% on the same period in 2016.

The visitors spent £4.4bn while in the country, also a record amount.

But at the same time the fall in the value of the pound did not discourage Britons from travelling overseas.

UK residents made 14.1 million trips abroad over the three months, a rise of 8.1% on 2016.

The decline in sterling makes it cheaper for foreign visitors to come to the UK, but more expensive for Britons going the other way.

Brits abroad

The number of American visitors was particularly significant. Their numbers were up by 16%, while their spending grew 29% to £604m.

There were a record 54,000 visits from Chinese nationals, who spent a record £91m, and there was strong growth in the number of Australian and French visitors too.

Wales appears to have been one of the most popular destinations, with the number of overnight visits increasing by 28%.

But the “visitor balance of payments” remains tilted against the UK.

While visitors spent £4.4bn in Britain over the quarter, Britons spent nearly twice as much – £8.6bn – on trips abroad. a figure that has risen by 11.7% over the past year.

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