U.K. welcomed record 37.3m visitors in 2016, flight bookings already up 16% in 2017

U.K. welcomed record 37.3m visitors in 2016, flight bookings already up 16% in 2017

LONDON — More overseas visitors travelled to the U.K. in 2016 than ever before, with strong growth coming from Canada and the U.S.

According to new figures released by VisitBritain, there were a record 37.3 million inbound visits to the U.K. in 2016, up 3% on 2015, with visitors spending £22.2 billion, matching 2015’s record spend.

Comparing growth during the last six years shows there were 7.5 million more visits in 2016 than in 2010, an increase of 25%.

North America contributed 4.3 million visits, up 7% on 2015. And although specific overall visitor numbers for 2016 from Canada won’t be available until spring, from January to September 2016 Canadians spent a record £505 million, up 24% with visits up 12% to 643,000.

“We are thrilled that so many Canadians and Americans are visiting the U.K. again and again, whether they’re visiting friends and relatives or exploring the culture, heritage, cities and countryside of Britain on their own,” said Paul Gauger, VisitBritain Interim Executive Vice President. “They are able to experience first-hand the warm welcome showcased through the global #OMGB ‘Home of Amazing Moments’ marketing campaign, as well as the benefits of the drop in the exchange rate and improved value for money.”

Tracey Crouch, Tourism Minister, added: “As these record-breaking figures show, the U.K. is one of the world’s must-visit destinations. The industry makes a significant contribution to our economy, and we will continue to support tourism to grow the sector further and promote the U.K. across the world.”

The figures show a boost in holiday visits to the U.K. towards the end of 2016, with a record 3.2 million visits from October to December, up 11% on the same period in 2015.

The latest flight booking data shows that 2017 is off to a strong start, with flight bookings up to the U.K. up 16% for February to April compared to the same period last year.