Tourists to U.K. Expected To Exceed Records In 2016

Open Jaw

The U.K. experienced a record-breaking 2015 for inbound tourism and visitor spend and that trend growth is expected to continue in 2016 according to forecasts from national tourism body VisitBritain.

In spite of the strength of £, spending by overseas visitors is predicted to reach almost £23 billion (CAD 46 billion) in 2016, a 4.2% increase on spending in 2015.  

The number of overseas visitors to the U.K. is expected to rise next year to 36.7 million visits, up 3.8% over 2015 which is likely to see about 35.4 million visits when numbers are finalized.  

This forecast puts VisitBritain on track to realise its target of growing international visits to Britain by more than 20% over the next 5 years to 42 million by 2020, which could see an additional £4.5 billion (CAD 9 billion) in visitor spend. 

“Everything we do is motivated by the goal to add value to the tourism industry by building our competitive tourism offer and driving economic growth and jobs across all our nations and regions, so that the benefits of tourism are felt across the whole of Britain. We are competing in a tough international environment and these results highlight  how strongly the tourism sector, one of the U.K.’s fastest growing export industries, has performed and how the Government’s tourism strategy, supported by the GREAT campaign, is producing results,” said VisitBritain Chief Executive Sally Balcombe.

The focus for VisitBritain this year has been to raise awareness of the beauty of Britain’s countryside through its global Countryside is GREAT campaign to showcase the rural landscape. Promoting the diversity of Britain’s tourism offer across all its nations and regions will continue in 2016 through a range of activities, events and celebrations:

·     England will celebrate the ‘Year of the GREAT English Garden’ – timed to coincide with the 300th anniversary of English landscape gardener Capability Brown

·     Wales’ ‘Year of Adventure’ will offer adrenalin pumping activities as well as culinary and literary adventures

·     Northern Ireland will showcase the best of its cuisine with the ‘Year of Food and Drink’

·     Scotland will put the spotlight on its past, present and future as it celebrates its ‘Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design’.

It will be a big year for the arts with a number of Britain’s musical and literary legends celebrating significant anniversaries and milestones in 2016:


  • The 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death which will be commemorated with events, exhibitions and performances in Shakespeare’s hometown Stratford upon Avon.
  • The 100th anniversary of Roald Dahl’s birth will be marked at the Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre in Buckinghamshire and in Cardiff (Dahl’s birthplace) where the whole city will be the setting for a once-in-a-lifetime celebration of all that’s weird and wonderful in his much-loved world.
  • The anniversaries of the births of Charlotte Bronte and Beatrix Potter
  • The 20th anniversary of pop group the Spice Girls
  • Musical anniversaries celebrated by Tom Jones, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Kinks, Lulu, Bananarama, Little Mix and Englebert Humperdinck.
  • 2016 will also see the opening of new galleries, performances and productions: 
  • The National Museums of Scotland will open 10 new galleries displaying collections of science, technology, art & design
  • The new Tate Modern will open in June
  • ‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child’ will debut on the West End in July

Tourism is Britain's 7th largest export industry and 3rd largest service sector. 

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