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VisitBritain has reported a 3% rise in inbound holiday visits in 2009

British tourism on the road to recovery

The weak pound has been a key influencer on travel in 2009 and resulted in a dramatic 25% improvement in the tourism balance of payments deficit, equivalent to £5 billion, as 15% fewer Britons have made trips abroad. New provisional figures from the International Passenger- the key monitor of international tourism to the UK- out today show that in the 12 months of 2009, overseas residents made 29.6 million visits to…

The weak pound has been a key influencer on travel in 2009 and resulted in a dramatic 25% improvement in the tourism balance of payments deficit, equivalent to £5 billion, as 15% fewer Britons have made trips abroad.
 
New provisional figures from the International Passenger- the key monitor of international tourism to the UK- out today show that in the 12 months of 2009, overseas residents made 29.6 million visits to the UK and spent just under £16.5 billion. The number of visitors has fallen 2.4 million from last year, while the spending has risen by 1%.
 
While the number of visitors has fallen the favourable exchange rate resulted in a sharp jump in average spending per trip in sterling terms.
 
The decline in visitor numbers meant that during 2009 Britain welcomed 29.6 million overseas visitors, the lowest number since 2004, proving that there are still challenges for the industry.
 
Key European markets set the pace for much of 2009 with our near neighbours taking advantage of the value for money on offer in Britain, but one of the most positive signs emerging during the final months of 2009 was a return to growth in the number of visits from North America, with visits up 8% in the final three months of the year. 
 
By contrast the global economic downturn resulted in the number of international business visits to Britain dropping by around 20%, or 1.6 million during 2009. This is perhaps unsurprising considering the decline in global trade and upheaval in the banking and financial services sector during the past eighteen months. 
 
After a sustained period of exceptionally fast growth the number of visits to Britain from the twelve EU Accession nations fell sharply in 2009 by some 21%, equivalent to 700,000 fewer trips. 
 
Patricia Yates, VisitBritain Director of Strategy and Communications said: “There are definitely glimmers of encouragement to be found in the full year figures and the improvement in the number of visits from the US towards the end of the year.”
 
“Looking forward to 2010 we are predicting a relatively small growth in numbers of inbound tourists of 1% but value increasing by 4 % as the pound remains relatively weak.”

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