Weaker pound as a result of Brexit brings record numbers to the UK from abroad
(ShareCast News) - Tourist promotion agency VisitBritain said on Tuesday that tourism in the UK had been at an all-time high throughout 2017 as almost 40m people visited the country from abroad.
The group forecast that overseas spending would jump 14% to £25.7bn as trips to Britain rose 6% to 39.7m throughout the whole year, all while Britons were holidaying at home in record numbers themselves.
Steve Ridgway, chairman of the British Tourist Authority, praised tourism for its role as a "job creator right across Britain," referring to the sector as an "economic powerhouse" generating roughly £127bn of economic output every year.
"Two-and-a-half times bigger than the automotive industry, employing three million, tourism is one of our most successful exports and needs no trade deals to compete globally."
Brexit, somewhat ironically, was seen as one of the leading causes for the increased number of visitors after the UK became a cheaper place to visit as a result of the 2016 referendum sending the pound into a nose dive.
Defending the figures, Ridgway said, "Tourism is a fiercely competitive global industry and you cannot just build a strong, resilient industry on a weaker currency."
"We must continue to invest in developing world-class tourism products, getting Britain on the wish-list of international and domestic travellers and we must make it easy for visitors to make that trip."
Tourism minister John Glen said the record figures for overseas and domestic holidaymakers were a "testament to our world-class attractions and the innovation of our tourism industry".
In its half-yearly report released on 13 July, the Office of National Statistics reported that a record 23.1m people had visited the UK from overseas, marking an 8% year-on-year increase, as July figures topped 4m for the first time in history.
In what could be seen as perhaps being another side effect of the Brexit vote and the weaker sterling, Britain's beaches had attracted more domestic users in the first six months of the year than ever before as 20.4m Britons spent £4.6bn between January and the end of June.
According to trade body UK Finance, which measures Britons debit card spending when abroad, overseas spending out of British bank accounts was down almost 13% in August when measured against the same time a year earlier, offering more evidence towards the changing trend towards holidaying at home as the pound's value diminished.