Who’s coming to the UK, who’s going, and why?

by Alexander Beard, on Sep 9, 2014 5:06:04 AM

2Visits to the UK by overseas residents rose in February 2014, continuing the pattern noted at the end of 2012 and 2013, according to the Office of National Statistics (ONS) in an April 2014 report. The number of visits to the UK in the three months December 2013 to February 2014 was 5% higher than a year earlier. Holiday visits to the UK continue to rise and are up 9% in the three months December to February compared with the same months a year earlier. Visits abroad by UK residents are up 3% over the past twelve months and their expenditure has increased 5% in the same period. This is good news for UK tourism.

The estimated number of visits abroad by UK residents in February 2014 was 3.29 million, which is a rise of 2% when compared to the number of visits abroad in February 2013. During the period December 2013 to February 2014, the number of UK residents’ visits abroad increased by 2% when compared with the corresponding period a year earlier, but they spent 3% less on these visits. Are things abroad getting comparatively cheaper or are we more cautious or limited with our spending?

In the 12 months to February 2014, the number of visits abroad by UK residents grew 3% when compared with a year earlier and expenditure on these visits rose by 5%. Visits to North America rose by 2%, Europe by 3% and Other Countries rose by 5%. Visits to friends or relatives grew by 5%, holiday visits grew by 3% and business visits grew by 1%. How many UK residents settled here but originally from abroad are now visiting their relations overseas? Does the small 1% increase in business visits tell us that our economic wellbeing needs more selling overseas and our recovery from recession still has some way to go?

These ONS figures are based on the counting of the numbers of passengers entering and leaving the UK and on surveying by conversation a small percentage of travellers to and from the UK at airports and ports (0.02% – 295,000 persons). Estimates are based on interviews conducted when passengers end their visit. Spending associated with visits includes anything spent before, during and after the trip.