isit Britain releases inbound tourism figures

Britain welcomed almost 30m international visitors in 2005, an increase of 8% on 2004, according to figures released by Visit Britain today. Although the average spend per visitor continued to fall to £466 compared with the high of £502 in 2000, the total revenue generated by overseas visitors grew by 9% from 2004 to a record £14.3bn. The average length of stay remained constant at eight days. The figures also identified growth of 35% in visitor numbers from non-traditional markets such as China, India, Eastern Europe and South East Asia, with the numbers of visitors from India growing by 53% year on year. Tom Wright, VisitBritain chief executive, commented: “This is a strong result and another step forward in achieving our target of raising its value towards £100bn. While many businesses faced a difficult summer, there are clear signs of recovery with a record 12.1 million customers spending over £375m in London’s theatre-land last year – a third of them from overseas. “The inbound tourism industry is a vital component of Britain’s national economy. International consumers spend £14 billion ‘buying’ British tourism – that’s more than they spend buying crude oil, vehicles, or food, beverages and tobacco from us,” added Wright. “Although our marketing activities already produce an overall return of £47 for every £1 invested by Government, hitting our £100bn target by 2010 will be a tough challenge. Government and the commercial sector must continue to make long-term investment if we are to realise fully the potential of the visitor economy.”

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