Inbound visitor statistics for April 2016

The latest available data from the International Passenger Survey is available below. This shows the volume and value of visits to the UK by overseas residents for the most recent month and quarter.

The survey is run by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) – monthly data is generally available 7 weeks after the end of each month and quarterly data is generally available 4 months after the close of each quarter. For publication dates and more information, please see about the International Passenger Survey.

Visits and spend figures


Visits: The UK recorded 3.06 million inbound visits during April 2016, 3% fewer than in the record set in April 2015 and only the second time the UK has seen over 3 million visits in April. Looking at year to date and rolling twelve months the picture is positive. In the first four months of 2016 inbound visits to the UK were 3% higher than they were during the same period in 2015 at 10.42 million visits. Growth was also a feature over the rolling twelve months to April 2016 – up 5% at 36.43 million visits.

Spending: Overseas visitors spent £1.60 billion in the UK during April 2016, on par with the same time last year. Over the first four months of 2016, visitor spending was down by 3% – driven by weaker January and March results (compared to the same months of 2015). Over the twelve months to April 2016, visitor spending was flat, just marginally south of the rolling twelve months to March record. It should be kept in mind that this data is provisional with the Office for National Statistics due to release revised Q1 data in July 2016.


Holiday visits were 18% behind April 2015 in April 2016 which might partly be due to an early Easter in March. Over the first four months of 2016 there were 3.40 million inbound visits – 4% down on the same period last year; however, up on levels recorded for the first four months until 2013. The rolling twelve month period to April 2016 showed figures slightly up 1% with 13.71 million holiday visits.

Visits to friends and relatives (VFR) fell by 4% in April 2016 compared to April 2015, with 0.87 million visits. VFR visits in the first four months of 2016 were 7% higher than the levels welcomed at the start of 2015. There were 8% more visits in the twelve months to April 2016, compared to the previous twelve month period, at 10.67 million visits.

During April 2016, business visits posted strong positive results for the third consecutive month this year – up 21% compared to April 2015. Business visits in the four months to April 2016 were up 7% compared to the same four months of the previous year. Business results to the UK for the medium term period of the rolling twelve months from May 2015 were 6% above the previous twelve month period at 9.06 million – the best ever results recorded for this journey purpose.

Miscellaneous journey purpose visits are a combination of a wide range of different journey purposes, including (but not limited to) short term study, looking for work, shopping, attending a sports event and many more. As a result monthly results tend to fluctuate. Indeed, during April 2016 visits to the UK for miscellaneous purposes were 32% higher than April last year. In the first four months of 2016 there were 0.78 million visits (9% more than the same period a year before). Miscellaneous visits to the UK were tracking 13% higher in the twelve months from May 2015 than during the previous twelve month period.

Further updates to follow …

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The Chinese consumer has become much more health conscious and more focused on value—although that doesn’t mean they want cheap products.

A new survey by McKinsey finds that Chinese consumers are spending on luxury items as well as services, and often do so when traveling abroad—where they sometimes find better prices.

You can listen to the McKinsey Podcast or read a transcript of the talk with McKinsey’s Glenn Leibowitz about the important trends emerging among Chinese consumers, and the opportunities—and challenges—they offer.

Fang Gong is an Associate Partner at McKinsey & Co., and the leader of their digital practice in Greater China. He is their expert on data analytics as a key to consumer insights. Daniel Zipser is a Partner who leads their Marketing & Sales Practice in China.


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China in the Tourist Spend Top Ten

According to the Office for National Statistics website, China stood at ninth place in the table of spending by overseas residents on a visit to the UK.

The USA led with a spend of £2,944m, with Germany, France, Australia, the Middle East (not including the UAE) and Spain (in that order) recording a spend of over £1,000m each.

Seventh was Spain, then Ireland, then China (Hong Kong and mainland), which hit £806m in 2014, up from £794m in 2013 and £533m in 2012.

China’s was the highest growth rate over those three years among the Top Ten countries.

In terms of actual visitors, China stood at 16th place, with 34,000 visitors in 2014. Bearing in mind the figure was 35,000 in 2013 and 34,000 in 2012, whilst the number of visitors remains at a steady figure, the increase in spend per head has risen considerably.

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