IPS data 2017 shows another record breaking year for inbound tourism

The finalised figures from the International Passenger Survey for 2017 have been released, which show another record-breaking year for inbound tourism. 39.2 million visits were made to the UK in 2017 – 3% more than in 2016 – and spending by overseas visitors grew 9% to reach a record £24.5 billion. A record 284.8 million nights were spent in the UK, up 3% on 2016.

Much of the increase is associated with the fall in the value of the pound, and the £2.25 billion increase in revenue generated by inbound tourism last year was sufficient to create an additional 40,000 jobs in the UK.

Holiday visits were the main driving force behind the growth, with visits up 11% and spend up a significant 22% – not an unexpected result as holidaymakers tend to be more price sensitive than VFR and business visitors. Business visits meanwhile performed poorly due to uncertainty over Brexit.

Scotland performed particularly well, with visits growing by 17% and spend by 23%. However London still dominated expenditure in England, while Wales struggled to capitalise on the success of the rest of the UK, experiencing no increase in visit numbers and a decline in overseas spending by 17%.

Journey Purpose

  • Holiday visits rose 11% to a record 15.4 million in 2017. Spending grew by 22% to £10.6 billion – double the holiday spending in 2007 and setting a new calendar year record.
  • Visits to Friends & Family (VFR) increased by 4% to a record 12 million. Spending rose 15% to a record £5.8 billion.
  • Following a record-setting 2016, business visits fell by 4% to 8.8. million, and spending decreased by 3% to £5.3 billion.
  • Miscellaneous visits are a combination of a wide range of journey purposes, including (but not limited to) short term study, job seeking, shopping, attending a sports event and more. Miscellaneous increased by 3% to 3.1 million, however spending fell 18% to £2.7 million.

Regional Higlights

  • London experienced a 4% growth in visit numbers to reach a record 19.8 million, while spending increased 14% to a record £13.5 billion.
  • The Rest of England saw a 3% increase in visit numbers to reach a record 16.5 million, although spending was on par with 2016 at £7.8 billion.
  • This brings the overall England visit numbers to a record 34.3 million, up 4% on 2016, and spend figures to a record £21.4 billion, up 9% on the previous year.
  • Scotland saw the largest regional growth with visits up 17% to a record 3.2 million, and spending grew 23% to a record £2.3 billion.
  • Wales did not experience the same level of growth as other regions in the UK with visit number staying stable at 1.08 million, but spending dropped by 17% to £369 million.

Market Highlights

  • China. Visits were up 29% to a record 337,000 while spending from the world’ most valuable outbound market grew 35% to a record £694 million.
  • India. Visits from India grew 35% to a record 562,000, while spending increased 5% to a record £454 million.
  • USA. Visits grew 13% to 3.9 million, the highest since 2000, while spending from the UK’s most valuable inbound market increased by 9% to a record £3.6 billion.
  • GCC. A record 810,000 visits were made from the GCC region, up 5% on 2016, while spending grew 55% to a record £2.2.billion.
  • Australia. Visits grew 11% to 1.1. million, with spending up 13% to £1.2 billion.
  • Markets that saw visit number growth of a third or more include:
    • Latvia (up 35% to a record 171,000, no change in spend at £44 million)
    • Lithuania (up 35% to a record 327,000, spend up 13% to £81 million)
    • Philippines (up 51% to a record 46,000; spend up 7% to £35 million)
    • Taiwan (up 49% to a record 69,000; spend up 29% to £65 million)
  • Markets that saw significant spending increases of a third or more include:
    • Argentina (up 95% to a record £176 million; visits up 1% to a record 147,000)
    • Croatia (up 57% to a record £30 million; visits dropped by 15% to 45,000)
    • Hungary (up 59% to a record £137 million; visits up 5% to a record 415,000)
  • Markets that saw both visit numbers and spend growth of 30% or more include:
    • Brazil (visits up 31% to 244,000; spend up 34% to £263 million)
    • Iceland (visits up 33% to 122,000; spend up 49% to a record £90 million)
    • Mexico (visits up 46% to a record 155,000; spend up 57% to £101 million)
    • Russia (visits up 55% to 227,000; spend up £139% to a record £862 million)
    • Serbia (visits up 86% to 45,000; spend up 159% to £27 million)

Please click here to view the IPS 2017 summary report.