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Statistical bulletin: Overseas Travel and Tourism, September 2013 This product is designated as National Statistics

Released: 14 November 2013 Download PDF

Key points

  • In the three months July to September 2013, visits to the UK from North America are up 3%, and visits from Europe and Other Countries increased by 8% and 13% respectively, compared with the same months a year earlier.
  • Year to date (January to September) holiday visits to the UK continue to rise and are up 7%.
  • Over the last twelve months, estimates of earnings from overseas residents to the UK continue to rise and are up 8%.
  • Visits abroad by UK residents are up 2% over the past twelve months and their expenditure has increased 3% in the same period.

About the estimates

  • Estimates contained in this bulletin are produced from responses provided by international passengers arriving in and departing from the UK, sampled on the International Passenger Survey (127.8 Kb Pdf) conducted by ONS.

  • The sample profile and responses are calibrated to international passenger traffic for the reporting period.

  • Estimates are based on interviews conducted when passengers end their visit. Therefore any visits commencing in the reported month but not completed until later are not included in estimates for the reported month.

  • Spending associated with visits includes anything spent before, during and after the trip.

  • Estimates are subject to sampling error, and confidence intervals are provided to help readers interpret the estimates (see background note 4 and Table 3). Further guidance is provided about the quality of Overseas Travel and Tourism estimates (404.8 Kb Pdf) .

  • Following Croatia joining the European Union on 1st July 2013, the categories representing 'Europe' and the 'European Union' have been updated to incorporate Croatia as a member of the European Union and to clarify the membership of the different groupings. Please see 'Reference Tables Definitions' for more information.

Changes to Overseas Travel and Tourism Publications

The Overseas Travel and Tourism monthly and quarterly bulletins are being updated to provide additional information about the revisions policy used to revise and finalise the estimates. As part of this improvement to the publications the titles will be changed to indicate that the estimates are provisional. The final estimates, for the Overseas Travel and Tourism data, are published in the annual Travel Trends publication. The first publications to include the additional information will be:

  • "Overseas Travel and Tourism, Provisional Results for October 2013" - due to be published on 12th December 2013

  • "Overseas Travel and Tourism, Provisional Results for Quarter 3, 2013" - due to be published on 16th January 2014

Other Overseas Travel and Tourism releases

More detailed analysis of overseas travel and tourism trends are provided in the publications:

  • Overseas Travel and Tourism Quarterly, latest publication Quarter 2 2013 published 10 October 2013. This publication provides more detailed analysis of visits and spending, isolating aspects such as countries of visit, mode of travel used, nationality of visitors, regions of the UK visited. Next publication Overseas Travel and Tourism, Q3 2013 to be published 16 January 2014.

  • Travel Trends, latest publication Travel Trends 2012 published 19 April 2013, next publication Travel Trends 2013 to be published in 2014. This publication provides more detailed analysis of visits and spending, including analysis by demographics, towns in the UK visited and countries visited by residents of different parts of the UK.

  • TravelPac is a data set which allows users to conduct their own analysis of quarterly and annual data on key variables. The datasets are provided in SPSS and Excel.

Note that estimates are subject to revision between the Monthly Statistical Bulletin and the Quarterly publication and again when Travel Trends is published. Revisions result from more accurate passenger figures being made available

Reference Tables Definitions

Abbreviations used in the tables:

 NA      ...not available

 SA      ...seasonally adjusted

 NSA    ...not seasonally adjusted

 †        ...point of earliest revision

 1        ...estimate (rounded to nearest 10,000 visits or £10 million)

Geographical areas:

  • North America:

Canada (including Greenland and St Pierre et Miquelon), USA (including Puerto Rico and US Virgin Islands).

  • Europe:

All countries within the European Union (see below for listing) plus the following central & Eastern European countries; North Cyprus, Gibraltar, Iceland (including Faroe Islands), Norway, Switzerland (including Liechtenstein), Turkey, the former USSR and the states of former Yugoslavia.

  • EU15:

All countries that joined the European Union before January 1st 2004; Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France (including Monaco), Finland, Germany, Greece, Irish Republic, Italy (including San Marino and Vatican City), Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal (including Azores and Madeira), Spain (including Canary Islands, the Balearic Islands and Andorra) and Sweden. Note that the UK is among the 15 countries that formed the European Union prior to January 2004, but due to the nature of the data displayed in the IPS reference tables data for the UK is excluded.

  • European Union:

All countries that are current members of the European Union; Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia**, Cyprus*, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France (including Monaco), Finland, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Irish Republic, Italy (including San Marino and Vatican City), Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal (including Azores and Madeira), Romania, Spain (including Canary Islands, the Balearic Islands and Andorra), Slovakia, Slovenia and Sweden. Note that the UK is a member of the European Union but due to the nature of the data displayed in the IPS reference tables data for the UK is excluded.

  • Other European Union:

All countries that joined the European Union from 1st January 2004 onwards; Bulgaria, Croatia**, Cyprus*, Czech republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia.

*Only the south of Cyprus is a member of the EU but the IPS is unable to separate North and South Cyprus for the period before May 2004 and so all of Cyprus is included in the European Union section until May 2004. From May 2004, only southern Cyprus is included in the European Union figures.

**Croatia joined the European Union on 1st July 2013 and data relating to Croatia collected from that date onwards has been included in the 'European Union', 'Other EU' and 'Europe' categories. Data relating to Croatia collected prior to 1st July 2013 is included in the 'Europe' category only.

Purpose groupings:

Holiday: Holiday/pleasure, to play amateur sport, cruise.

Business: Business.

Visit friends or relatives: Visit family, visit friends.

Miscellaneous: Other reasons or cases where the respondent is not able to give a single purpose as the main reason for visit.

People migrating (to or from the UK) or travelling as crew of aircraft, ships or trains are excluded from analysis in this publication.

Background notes

  1. The estimates contained in this publication focus on travel and tourism with analysis based on visits (for any purpose) of less than 12 months duration by:

    a) overseas residents to the UK, and

    b) UK residents abroad

    Estimates of the number and profile of visits to the UK by overseas residents are drawn from interviews conducted on the International Passenger Survey (IPS) with overseas residents as they leave the UK at the end of their visit. Visits abroad by UK residents are drawn from interviews conducted UK residents as they return to the UK at the end of their visit abroad. In the case of UK residents, if more than one country was visited on a trip, the country recorded as visited in ONS's Overseas Travel and Tourism publications is the country that was visited for the longest period.

    Note that, although data by the International Passenger Survey (IPS) also feeds into the calculation of migration statistics, this report does not provide any information relating to International migration.

  2. Figures for the most recent months are provisional and subject to revision in light of (a) more accurate data on passenger figures becoming available at the end of each quarter and (b) additional passenger data obtained at the end of each year.

  3. The main series are seasonally adjusted. This aids interpretation by identifying seasonal patterns and calendar effects and removing them from the unadjusted data. The resulting figures give a more accurate indication of underlying movements in the series
  4. The estimates produced from the IPS are subject to sampling errors that result because not every traveller to the UK is interviewed on the survey. Sampling errors are determined both by the sample design and by the sample size - generally speaking, the larger the sample supporting a particular estimate, the proportionately lower its sampling error. The survey sample size is approximately 25,000 per month.

    Accuracy of the estimates is expressed in terms of Confidence intervals. The confidence interval is a range within which the true value of a proportion lies with known probability. For example, the 95% confidence interval represents the range into which there are 19 chances out of 20 that the true figure would fall had all passengers been sampled. This is obtained as +/- 1.96 the standard error.

    Table 3: Confidence Intervals relating to Overseas Travel and Tourism estimates in September 2013

    September 2013 monthly estimates Estimate Relative 95% Confidence Interval (+/- % of the estimate)
    Visits to UK by overseas residents (thousands) 2770 9.0%
    Earnings from visits to UK (£ million) 2150 13.7%
    Visits abroad by UK residents (thousands) 6400 3.5%
    Expenditure on visits abroad (£ million) 3990 4.9%

    Table source: Office for National Statistics

    Download table

    Confidence intervals for quarterly (39.5 Kb Excel sheet) and annual (82 Kb Excel sheet) estimates are provided in the relevant Overseas Travel and Tourism publications published by ONS.

  5. One indication of the reliability of the key indicators in this release can be obtained by monitoring the size of revisions. The table below records the size and pattern of revisions which have occurred over the last five years to the following key seasonally adjusted estimates:

    • The number of visits by overseas residents to the UK (GMAT)

    • The number of visits abroad by UK residents (GMAX)

    • Earnings made from overseas residents in the UK (GMAZ) and

    • Expenditure abroad by UK residents (GMBB)

    Table 4: Revisions over the last five years

    Revisions between first publications and estimates three years later
    Value in the latest period (2013 Q3) Averages over the last five years (bias) Average over the last five years without regard to sign (average absolute revision)
    GMAT 8,170 54.50 155.50
    GMAX 14,700 162.63 264.74
    GMAZ 5,570 65.25 110.75
    GMBB 8,730 *172.11 *179.47

    Table source: Office for National Statistics

    Table notes:

    1. Units: GMAT and GMAX in thousands, GMAZ and GMBB in £ million.
    2. A statistical test has been applied to find out if the mean revision to each key indicator is statistically different from zero. An asterisk (*) indicates where the mean revision has been significantly different from zero

    Download table

    Spreadsheets giving revisions triangles (real time databases) of estimates for the period illustrated in the table, and calculations behind the averages shown, are available in the data section of this publication.

    Further information on the ONS revisions policy.

  6. Statistical series are affected by special events. However, as explained in ONS's special events policy, it is not possible to make an estimate of the effect of particular events only on the basis of information collected in those series. However, ONS publishes a special events calendar which may help the reader put some context on reported estimates.

  7. Constituent items in the tables may not add exactly to totals due to rounding.

  8. The information provided to the ONS by respondents is treated as strictly confidential as directed by the Code of Practice for Official Statistics. It is used to produce statistics that will not identify any individuals.

  9. A list of the job titles of those given pre-publication access to the contents of this Statistical Bulletin is available on the website.

  10. National Statistics are produced to high professional standards set out in the Code of Practice for Official Statistics.

  11. Next publication: 12 December 2013

    General IPS queries:

    For general questions about IPS and requests for ad hoc data analysis (a service governed by the ONS Income and Charging policy):

    Tel                 Data Advice Relations Team +44 (0)1633 455678

    E-mail            socialsurveys@ons.gsi.gov.uk

  12. Details of the policy governing the release of new data are available by visiting www.statisticsauthority.gov.uk/assessment/code-of-practice/index.html or from the Media Relations Office email: media.relations@ons.gsi.gov.uk

Statistical contacts

Name Phone Department Email
Fiona Dawe +44 (0)1633 455296 Social Surveys socialsurveys@ons.gsi.gov.uk
Get all the tables for this publication in the data section of this publication .
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