One million more overseas visitors in 2023

Inbound visitors to the UK increased by one million last year, according to data from the Office of National Statistics.

Overseas residents made 10.9 million visits to the UK in the third quarter of 2023 (July to Sept); this has increased from the 9.9 million visits that were made in Quarter Three 2022.

Complimentary data launched today (24 January 2024) by inbound tourism organisation UKinbound, suggests these figures should continue to rise in 2024.

UKinbound’s Business Barometer member survey suggests 89% of UK tourism businesses, that service the country’s inbound tourism sector, expect yields in the first quarter of 2024 to be the same or higher than 2023. It shows 86% of businesses expect booking/visitor numbers to be the same or higher in he first quarter of 2024 compared to 2023 and that the US continues to be the largest growth market.

The mood of the market seems to be positive, according to UKinbound’s figures, with 73% of respondents reporting they are confident about the impending 12 months. The lowest confidence level recorded in a year but higher than the 60% from January 2023. Almost 2/3 (65%) of businesses stated rising costs were their biggest barriers to growth in 2024, with 41% citing staff recruitment and retention.

“2023 was a superb year of growth for the industry and at the moment we can confidently forecast that this trend will continue” – Joss Croft OBE, CEO of UKinbound

Joss Croft OBE, CEO of UKinbound, said: “We are delighted that our members are reporting this positive start to 2024. 2023 was a superb year of growth for the industry and at the moment we can confidently forecast that this trend will continue, which is very welcome news for tourism businesses up and down the country and the skilled people they employ.

“However, we are poised for a year of change with the introduction of the Electronic Travel Authorisation, the European Travel Information and Authorisation System and the European Entry/Exit system, all alongside a likely general election.

“We firmly have in our sight a range of policy changes, that if rolled out could further expediate the UK’s growth, from launching a new tax-free shopping scheme for international visitors to expanding the list of countries (in addition to France) that we allow students under the age of 18 from to use their ID Card, rather than a passport, to visit the UK.

“However, as highlighted by our members, rising costs and staff recruitment and retention are real concerns, which is why we’re additionally pushing for a new low-cost visa for international visitors, along with changes to the salary threshold for international workers here in the UK.”

  • These findings of greater inbound tourism corroborate with what B&CB heard when contacting coach tourism firms across the country recently. See what they had to say about last year’s performance and this year’s outlook in our latest issue

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