Countries with most visitor to UK are still France, Germany, USA, Ireland, Netherlands

Data from the ONS (the government’s Office of National Statistics) shows each year how many foreign tourists visit the UK and how many Britons travel abroad, for holidays or business or to visit friends and family. The figures for 2013 show that the “tourism deficit” (the difference between the money spent by inbound visitors to the UK, and the money spent by Brits on their trips abroad) remains around £13.7 billion. So we export much more money by our air trips than we get into the UK economy from foreign visitors coming here. The countries with the largest number of visitors to the UK remain, in descending order, France, Germany, USA, Ireland, Netherlands, Spain, Italy and Poland. The countries which pay the most into the UK economy from their visits are, in descending order, USA, Germany, France, Australia, Spain, Italy, Ireland and Netherlands. The countries whose citizens spend the most per day are the UAE and other Middle East countries, Egypt, Nigeria, Norway, Denmark, Hong Kong and Russia. 51% of all overseas visitors come to London. The countries whose citizens spend most in London are Americans and Middle Eastern countries.

Number of visits to the UK: by country residence and spending


Top 10 Markets

The top ten inbound markets for the UK in terms of number of visits during 2012 accounted for two in three visits (66%).  It is noteworthy that only two long-haul markets, the USA and Australia, appear in the top ten.  Looking at spending by inbound visitors, the top ten markets account for 54% of all spending, with the USA worth almost £1 billion more than the next most valuable market, France.  All of the top ten markets measured in terms of value are ‘developed’ rather than ‘emerging’ source markets for international tourism.

   UK tourism 2013 top markets by volume and value

Tourism in London 2013



ONS data for tourism deficit for 2011 2012 2013–2013.html#tab-Data-tables-associated-with-this-report


Travel Trends 2013: Key Findings

Trends in visits to the UK by overseas residents

  • 2013 saw the highest number of visits to the UK by overseas residents since the IPS began in 1961, it also saw the highest recorded spending.
  • Overseas residents made 5.6% more visits to the UK in 2013 compared with 2012 leading to an historical high of 32,813,000 visits.
  • Earnings from visits to the UK rose by £2.4 billion (12.7%) compared to 2012 to reach a record level of spending in the UK of £21 billion.
  • The number of nights spent in the UK also grew 6.6% in 2013 to a total of 245.3 million overnight stays.
  • Visits from North America continued to show a decline, 0.3% down on 2012, however spending from the region increased by 2.9%. Visits from Europe and ‘Other Countries’ showed increases of 5.7% and 9.3% respectively and spending from these regions also grew by 10.5% and 21.6%.
  • Holidays remain the main reason for visits to the UK accounting for 12.7 million visits, a rise of 6.4% on 2012. Business visits and visits to friends and family continued to show growth, up 7.0% and 4.2% respectively.
  • Overseas residents made 16.8 million overnight visits to London in 2013, an increase of 1.3 million (8.6%) from 2012, and spent an estimated £11.3 billion on visits to the Capital.
  • Overnight visits to the rest of England grew by 6.1% to 13.6 million while visits to Scotland and Wales both showed increases after falls in 2012, Scottish visits up 9.8% and Welsh 3.5%.

Trends in visits abroad by UK Residents

  • UK residents made 3.5% more visits abroad than in 2012 and spent £2.5 billion (7.6%) more during these visits. The length of visit also increased in 2013 up 4.7% to 611.5 million nights.
  • Holiday visits abroad grew by 4.0% as did visits abroad to friends or family, up 5.7%, however business visits fell by 1.9%. The picture for expenditure was the same with spending on holidays and visits to friends and family rising 8.4% and 11.8% respectively, while expenditure on business visits abroad fell 3.0%.
  • Visits to North America and ‘Other Countries’ grew in 2013 after falls in 2012, both up 0.7% and 2.7% respectively. Visits to Europe continued to rise, increasing by 3.9% in 2013.
  • Spain continues to be the top destination for UK residents visiting abroad, accounting for 11.7 million visits, an increase of 5.8% on 2012. Visits to France grew 0.8% in 2013 following a fall in visits since 2009. Visits to Morocco and Tunisia continue to grow in 2013, both increasing by 28.7% and 17.0% respectively. At the same time visits to Egypt continue to decrease, showing a fall of 1.0% in 2013, following the trend of recent years.
  • The average length of stay on visits abroad remained broadly constant in 2013 at 10.5 nights, however average spending on these visits increased by 4.0% from £573 in 2012 to £596 in 2013.


Get all the tables for this publication in the data section of this publication .–2013.html


16.8m overseas visits to London in 2013, up 43.5% in 10 years

Latest ONS data looks at travel and tourism in 2013

The latest ONS data shows the highest recorded number of overseas visits to the UK since 1961. There were 32,813,000 visits to the UK in 2013, a 5.6% increase since 2012. Over the same year, spending by overseas visitors increased by 12.7% to £21,012m. The number of visits to London in 2013 was the highest since 1961, with half of all visitors to the UK visiting London. There were 16.8m overseas visitors to London in 2013 and they spent £11,256m.

Increase in visits to London over the last 10 years

A total of 16.8m overseas visitors visited London during their visit to the UK in 2013. This was the highest recorded number of overseas visitors since 1961. The proportion of all overseas visitors to the UK who visit London has been increasing steadily over the last ten years, from 47.3% in 2003 to 51.2% in 2013.

Two-thirds of visitors from North America and other countries outside of Europe visited London during their visit to the UK in 2013 (65.8% and 67.1% respectively). Just under half (48.6%) of European visitors to the UK visited London in 2013. Half of all overseas visitors visiting London were on holiday. Over the last ten years, the number of overseas visitors visiting London for a holiday has increased from 4.9m in 2003 to 8.5m in 2013 (71.9%). Over the same period business visits have increased by 18.5% and visits to friends and family increased by 34.8%.

Over the last 10 years the top 10 countries of residence for overseas visitors to London have remained fairly constant. In both 2003 and 2013 visitors from the United States of America, France and Germany were the top three visiting countries.

Table 1: Top 10 visitors to London over last 10 years (numbers in thousands)

1USA2,234 1USA1,884
2France1,191 2France1,873
3Germany892 3Germany1,338
4Irish Republic624 4Italy1,091
5Netherlands619 5Spain843
6Italy601 6Netherlands696
7Spain527 7Australia696
8Australia451 8Irish Republic619
9Canada317 9Belgium533
10Sweden308 10Sweden523

Table source: Office for National Statistics

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Tourist spending in London almost doubled in last 10 years

Expenditure in the UK by overseas visitors in 2013 had increased by 12.7% since 2012 to £21,012m. Of this overall expenditure, 53.6% was spent in London. The amount spent by overseas visitors in London almost doubled (increased by 91.9%) between 2003 and 2013. Overseas visitors spent £11,256m in London in 2013 compared to £5,867m in 2003. The increase in spending has been largely driven by the increase in holiday visits to London over this period. In 2013, just under a half (47.9%) of spending by overseas visitors in London was by those on holiday.

In both 2003 and 2013, visitors from the United States of America were the highest spenders in London. The top 10 spending countries have changed over the last 10 years, with countries from Asia, Central and South America, and the United Arab Emirates replacing the Netherlands, the Irish Republic and African countries as high spenders.

The average spend per visitor to London is higher for some countries than others which explains why the list of top 10 visiting countries is different to the top 10 spending countries. Visitors from the United Arab Emirates and countries in Central and South America, Asia and the Middle East have a higher average spend per visitor than countries, such as France, Germany and Italy that have higher number of residents visiting London.

Table 2: Top 10 spending countries, visiting London over last 10 years (expenditure in millions)

1USA£1,412 1USA£1,526
2France£332 2Other Middle East£888
3Italy£293 3France£677
4Germany£290 4Germany£557
5Australia£235 5Australia£552
6Netherlands£222 6Italy£513
7Spain£221 7Spain£483
8Other Middle East£209 8Other Asia£411
9Other Africa£199 9United Arab Emirates£359
10Irish Republic£173 10Other Central & South America£335

Table source: Office for National Statistics

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Where can I find out more about overseas travel and tourism statistics?

These statistics were analysed by the International Passenger Survey team at ONS. The analysis was based on data from the International Passenger Survey. If you would like to find out more about overseas travel and tourism, you can read the release, view the infographic, or visit the travel and transport page. If you have any comments or suggestions, we would like to hear them. Please email us at:



VisitBritain data shows countries with highest spending by inbound tourists in 2013: top is USA (12% of the total), Germany (7%), France (6%) and Australia (6%)

4.12.2013Visit Britain has commissioned a report, by Deloitte and Oxford Economics. The report indicates that the tourism sector in the UK is worth some £127 billion per year now, and might grow at 3.8% per year. They say it might be worth £257 billion to the UK economy by 2025. Their report says that UK income from foreign tourists in 2012 was £24 billion, (giving a net UK tourism deficit from outbound tourists of £13.8 billion). The £24 billion contributed £6.7 billion to HMRC. Data for 2012 show that the countries whose visitors to the UK spent the most were the USA (by far the most at 13% of the total), France (8%), Germany (7%) and Australia (5%).  Then Ireland, Spain and Italy at 4% each. By far the largest number of visitors came from France (12% of the total), next Germany at 10% and USA at 9%. Predictably those who have come long haul spend more on their visits than Europeans. In 2012 about 73% of inbound visitors reached the UK by air. In 2012 there were 179,000 visits by Chinese people to the UK (0.6% of all overseas visits). They accounted for 1.7% of all nights in the UK by overseas visitors, and they spent £300m spent, accounting for 1.6% of the total spent whilst in the UK by overseas visitors.