Britain’s visitor economy facts

Since 2010 tourism has been the fastest growing sector in the UK in employment terms. Britain is forecast to have a tourism industry worth over £257 billion by 2025.

The big picture – the tourism economy: delivering jobs and growth.

Source: Tourism: jobs and growth. Deloitte November 2013.

The Deloitte Tourism: jobs and growth report found that the marginal revenue required to create a job in UK tourism is estimated to be around £54,000. For every 1% increase in total expenditure in UK tourism, it might be expected that full time equivalent employment will increase by 0.89%.

The sector is predicted to grow at an annual rate of 3.8% through to 2025 – significantly faster than the overall UK economy (with a predicted annual rate of 3% per annum) and much faster than sectors such as manufacturing, construction and retail.

Source: Tourism: jobs and growth. Deloitte November 2013.

Britain will have a tourism industry worth over £257 billion by 2025 – just under 10% of UK GDP and supporting almost 3.8 million jobs, which is around 11% of the total UK number.

Tourism’s impact is amplified through the economy, so its impact is much wider than just the direct spending levels. Deloitte estimates the tourism GVA multiplier to be 2.8 – meaning that for every £1,000 generated in direct tourism GVA there is a further £1,800 that is supported elsewhere in the economy through the supply chain and consumer spending.

Inbound tourism will continue to be the fastest growing tourism sector – with spend by international visitors forecast to grow by over 6% a year in comparison with domestic spending by UK residents at just over 3%. The value of inbound tourism is forecast to grow from over £21bn in 2013 to £57bn by 2025, with the UK seeing an international tourism balance of payments surplus in 2023, almost forty years since the UK last reported a surplus.

Download the full report from Deloitte to discover tourism’s central role in creating new jobs across Britain (PDF, 3.93MB), commissioned by VisitBritain in 2013.

Similar reports were under taken in 2010 (PDF, 2.5MB) and in 2008 (PDF, 1.48MB).

Inbound tourism to the UK

The 40.9 million overseas visitors who came to the UK in 2019 spent £28.4 billion. These figures represent a 1% increase in volume and 7% (nominal) increase in value compared with 2018.

In 2018 the UK ranked eighth in the UNWTO international tourist arrivals league, behind France, Spain, USA, China, Italy, Turkey and Mexico. The UK accounted for 2.7% of global arrivals in 2018.

In 2018 the UK was in 11th place in the international tourism earnings league behind USA, Spain, France, Thailand, Italy, Japan, Australia, Germany, Macao and China according to UNWTO figures. The UK accounted for 2.4% of international tourism receipts in 2018.

In 2018, the USA, France and Germany were the top three markets in terms of number of visits to the UK accounting for 27.7% of visits. The top three markets measured in terms of visitor spend were the USA, China and Germany accounting for 26.2% of all overseas visitor spend in the UK.

In 2019, London accounted for 55% of all inbound visitor spend, the rest of England 32%, Scotland 9% and Wales 2%.

A separate page is dedicated to covering key Inbound Tourism Trends.

Repeat visitors to the UK

In 2015, 77% of inbound visits were repeat visits, spending £14 billion in the UK.

Repeat holiday visitors are likely to stay longer on their trip to the UK than first-time visitors, and spend more on average per night and overall on their trip, indicating how valuable it is to encourage visitors to return.

In 2015, 91% of business visits were repeat visits, 85% of visits to friends and family, and 63% of holiday visits.

Certain markets are also more likely to make repeat visits to the UK: 91% of holiday visits from Irish Republic, 83% from Iceland, 82% from Norway and 79% from Belgium were repeat visits in 2015, all close neighbouring countries.

To get more information on repeat visits, including information on inbound markets and UK regions, please download the following report (PDF,740KB).

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