ONS data shows about 12.3% of trips abroad by Brits in 2012 were on business + about 18% of worldwide visitors to the UK were on business

The 2012 data from the Office for National Statistics, released on 19th April, shows that there were some 56 million visits by UK residents abroad during the year. There were some 31 million visits by overseas residents to the UK.  Some 44 million Brits went to Europe during 2012, and those European visits made up about 78% of the visits by UK residents.  Around 22.8 million Europeans visited the UK during 2012 and Europeans make up about 74% of visitors to the UK.  Around 12.2% of all UK residents travelling to Europe were on business (and about 26% of Europeans visiting the UK were on business).  Of total visits abroad worldwide made by UK residents, about 12.3% were on business, (and about 18% of worldwide visitors to the UK were on business).   As well as the 12.2% of Brits on business worldwide in 2012, 21% were visiting friends and family, and 64% were on holidays. About 74% UK of business trips to Europe were by plane, and about 69% of European business trip to the UK were by plane. The rest were by sea or Channel Tunnel.  76% of holiday trips to Europe were by plane and about 10.5% were by the Channel Tunnel.

63% of business trips made by air in 2012 were to the 27 EU countries  (3,477,000 out of 5,505,000). Table 4.01  link



Office for National Statistics data. Travel Trends 2012

There is extensive data at


and a large number of data tables at


Below are some summaries of the data on number of trips by UK residents abroad taken from Section 5 Excel (461.3 Kb)

and from number of trips by overseas residents to the UK.   Section 4 Excel (613.9 Kb)


 UK residents travelling abroad

2012 Thousands of UK residents visits abroad From ONS Travel Trends     (thousands) % of total travellers
Europe Air Sea Channel Tunnel Total 
Holiday 22,440 3,862 3,047 29,350  Holiday 66%
of which inclusive tour 9,326 986 704 11,017
Business 4,014 562 826 5,402 Business 12.2%
Visiting friends or relatives 6,244 1,218 732 8,194  VFR 18.5%
Miscellaneous 592 423 257 1,271
All visits 33,291 6,065 4,862 44,217 Air 75%
  Tunnel 11%
74% of UK resident business trips to Europe by air   Sea 14%
Total World Air Sea Channel Tunnel Total % of total travellers
Holiday 28,573 4,550 3,050 36,173  Holiday  64%
of which inclusive tour 12,098 1,667 704 14,470
Business 5,569 562 826 6,956 Business 12.3%
Visiting friends or relatives 9,842 1,221 735 11,797  VFR 21%
Miscellaneous 932 423 257 1,612
All visits 44,916 6,755 4,867 56,538 Air 79%


Some 77% of the business trips made by UK residents are to Europe,



 Overseas residents visiting the UK 

2012 thousands of Overseas residents visits to the UK From ONS Travel Trends % of total visits
Europe Air Sea Channel Tunnel  Total
Holiday 5,335 1,685 1,525 8,545
of which inclusive tour 531 532 361 1,423
Business 4,016 1,049 787 5,852 Business 26%
Visiting friends or relatives 4,853 798 763 6,414
Miscellaneous 1,437 320 229 1,985
All visits 15,641 3,852 3,304 22,796 Air 69%
68.6% of European resident business trips to UK by air
2012 thousands of Overseas residents visits to the UK
World Air Sea Channel Tunnel Total
Holiday 7,731 2,020 2,210 11,961  Holiday 38.5%
of which inclusive tour 765 748 565 2,078
Business 5,505 1,069 848 7,422 Business 18%
Visiting friends or relatives 7,251 838 859 8,948  VFR 29%
Miscellaneous 2,183 330 240 2,752
All visits 22,670 4,257 4,157 31,084 Air 73%
Section 4


Some 79% of the business visits by overseas residents to the UK are from Europe.



Travel Trends 2012: Key Findings


  • 2012 presented an unusual year for planning travel and tourism to and from the UK. It saw the UK host the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations in June, the London 2012 Olympic Games in July/August and Paralympics in August/September. Other factors in 2012 that might be expected to impact on travel and tourism included the wettest April to June on record in the UK and some strengthening of the pound against the euro from low exchange rates experienced in 2009 to 2011.
  • However, although there was a reduction in visits to the UK in quarter 3 (July to September) and an increase in quarters 1, 2 and 4, visit trends in 2012 displayed a number of similarities to recent years.
  • The number of visits to the UK in 2012 as a whole rose by 0.9% from 2011, whereas visits abroad fell by 0.5%. This is the fourth consecutive year that the gap between outbound visits and inbound visits has narrowed.
  • Earnings from visits to the UK rose by £0.6 billion (3.6%) to £18.6 billion. Expenditure on visits abroad rose by £0.7 billion (2.4%) to £32.4 billion. This resulted in a broadly unchanged deficit to the UK associated with overseas travel and tourism, the figure being £13.8 billion in 2012.
  • Overseas residents made an increased number of overnight visits to London in 2012 compared to 2011, but a reduced number of overnight visits to the rest of England, Scotland and Wales. Earnings on visits to London rose (by 7.0%) whereas those associated with overnight visits to both the rest of England and Scotland fell. This is the third consecutive year that visits and earnings associated with visits to London have grown faster than the average of all visits.
  • Visits to the UK fell in quarter 3 2012, the time of the Olympic Games/Paralympics, whereas visits in each of quarter 1, 2 and 4 increased. Despite the fall in visits in quarter 3, earnings increased by 8.5% in that quarter, as people visiting for the Olympics/Paralympics spent more than the average on their visit.
  • A total of 471,000 overseas residents visited the UK primarily for the Olympics/Paralympics in 2012 and a further 227,000 attended a ticketed event. The 471,000 came primarily from Europe, and were more likely than average to be male, aged 25-34, to have stayed in London and to have travelled via Heathrow. 90% travelled independently rather than on a package tour.
  • There was a continued increase in business visits and those to see friends or relatives in 2012, whereas holiday visits showed no growth either to the UK or abroad.
  • There was also an increase in visits to and from Europe, whereas visits from longer haul destinations to the UK were unchanged from 2011 and visits from the UK to these destinations fell.
  • Visits to the UK from the ‘BRIC’ countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China) increased by 1.7% in total in 2012. Those from China (including Taiwan) rose by 34,000 and from Russia by 16,000, but from India fell by 16,000 and from Brazil fell by 17,000.
  • Visits to Spain by UK residents have grown in both 2011 and 2012, from 10.4 million in 2010 to 11.1 million in 2012, whereas visits to France have fallen (from 9.8 million in 2009 to 8.8 million in 2012). UK residents have also turned focus away from Egypt in recent years, making 109,000 fewer visits to Egypt in 2012 than in 2011. At the same time they increased their visits to Morocco, Tunisia and other North Africa countries by a similar volume. The number of visits to Egypt has fallen from 749,000 in 2009 to 407,000 in 2012.


Get all the tables for this publication in the data section of this publication .