North American tourists flocked to the UK in March, resulting in a 43% rise in visitor numbers.
This is according to data from the British Hospitality Association’s Travel Monitor, which also showed that the number of holiday visitors from abroad rose by 23% year on year.
While the increase was driven by the growth in passengers from North America, the number of visitors from Europe was more subdued, rising by just 4%.
Spending by overseas visitors increased 14% year on the year, while overseas spend by UK residents continued to grow strongly, up 13% year on year.
Year to date, the analysis from the BHA Travel Monitor shows that the total number of visitors to the UK was up 6.9% with business visitors, down -1.4% year on year
Ufi Ibrahim, chief executive of the British Hospitality Association, said: “Trading in March has been very encouraging and the low rate of sterling presents a great opportunity for our industry to welcome an increasing number of foreign visitors. However, we cannot and should not rely on fluctuating rates in the long term.
“With political and economic uncertainty increasing, it is more important than ever to ensure that UK tourism can compete. The UK continues to have a 20% VAT rate on tourism which is twice the average rate across Europe. Alongside businesses investing in the apprenticeship levy, rising business rates and the threat of online platforms such as Airbnb, this signals concern for businesses in the industry, four out of five of which are SMEs.”
The latest BHA Quarterly Inbound Travel Analysis for the last three months of 2016 has also been released and shows that inbound holiday passengers spent an estimated £130m (+1.5%) more in the UK in 2016 than in 2015, while business passengers spent an estimated £50m (+0.9%) more.