Overseas visits to the UK are set to pass 40m for the first time in 2018, according to VisitBritain, which is predicting tourists will spend a record £27bn over the coming 12 months.
A double-digit fall in the pound against the euro and the dollar is helping drive visits and allow tourism to buck predictions of a post-referendum slowdown in the British economy.
The national tourism agency said 2017 was a record year for inbound tourism to the UK – with 39.9m visits. Next year, it is predicting that will reach 41.7m – a 4.4% rise on this year, meaning hotels and restaurants in popular destinations such as London, Bath, Edinburgh and Cambridge can expect a record year.
The 2017 tourist boom drove strong sales for British luxury brands such as Burberry, which helped propel Bond Street in London into the top three of the world’s most expensive store locations, overtaking Paris’s Champs-Élysées.
Travellers predominately from Europe, the US and China have been arriving in ever increasing numbers to buy luxury designer brands for lower prices than they can get at home. Meanwhile, other destinations linked to popular books, films and TV programmes are expected to continue to pull in the crowds. They include the Northern Ireland locations used in Game of Thrones. During 2017 events linked to the 20th anniversary of the first Harry Potter book and the 200th anniversary of the death of Jane Austen proved popular.