The April UK travel & tourism data from the ONS shows that the sharply weakened pound continues to encourage visits to the UK from abroad and more spend by visitors
While the April data was lifted by the later Easter in 2017, the underlying trend shows significantly higher visits to the UK.
The rise in UK travellers abroad was markedly lower, as was their spend, reflecting the weakened pound.
This is a positive for the UK economy and the high levels of tourism in April may have also contributed to the spike in retail sales during the month.
Howard Archer, Chief Economic Advisor to the EY ITEM Club, comments:
“The Office for National Statistics reports that foreign visits to the UK rose 19% year-on-year in April to 3.72m. There was an increase of 13% from North America (up to 320,000 from 282,000) while there was an increase of 17.2% from Europe (up to 2.93 million from 2.50 million).
“It was also reported that overseas residents made 42% more visits to the UK for holidays in April 2017 than in April 2016.
“The April data was boosted by the later Easter, but there is a clear underlying increase in foreign visits to the UK. Over the three months to April, the number of visits to the UK increased by 11% from 8.1m to 8.9m compared to the three months to April 2016. This was led by a 19% increase in visitors from North America, while there was a 7% increase from EU countries.
“In April, seasonally adjusted spend in the UK by overseas residents increased 18% on the previous year to £2.23bn. Over the three months to April, it was up 14% year-on-year at £6.24bn.
“In contrast, foreign visits by UK residents was up just 2% year-on-year in April itself to 6.14m with holiday visits up 4.6% year-on-year to 3.69m. Visits abroad were up just 1% year -on-year in the three months to April at 14.9 million.
“Seasonally-adjusted spending by UK residents abroad actually dipped 2.3% year-on-year in April to £3.7m.”