The number of overseas visitors to the UK dropped in 2018, despite “favourable” exchange rates and “record-breaking” temperatures.
The latest ‘Travel Trends’ report released by the ONS has revealed that there were a total of 37.9 million visits made by overseas residents to the UK in 2018, 3% down on 2017. The amount of money spent by overseas visitors also fell by 7% to £22.9bn.
Meanwhile, UK residents made 71.7 million visits overseas, down 1% on the previous year, although spending rose by 1% to £45.4bn.
Ian Bell, head of travel and tourism at audit, tax and consulting services firm RSM, said: “It’s really disappointing to see a drop in the number of visitors coming to the UK – and most worrying for hoteliers, restaurateurs and retailers is the decline in spending.
“The UK benefited from a post-Olympic boom in the years after 2012, so it would be really disappointing if this were to mark the start of a downward trend in the appeal of the UK as a tourist destination.”
He added: “Given last year’s heatwave and the pound’s weakness, it’s probably less surprising that there was a drop in the numbers of UK residents travelling overseas. This year we could well see a further decline as a result of Brexit uncertainty, but the staycationers could provide a welcome boost for the UK economy.”