Compared to a year ago, visits to the UK by overseas residents increased by 12.1% to 9.9 million in quarter 3 2013. The length of visit by overseas residents also increased, with number of nights spent in the UK rising by 9.2%. In addition, the estimated earnings from these visits increased by 11.4% to £7.2 billion.
Visits abroad by UK residents in this quarter increased by 6.9% to 20.6 million. The number of nights spent abroad, by UK residents, also increased by 9.2% compared with quarter 3 in 2012, and expenditure during these visits increased by 8.3% to £12.7 billion.
This report contains estimates of completed international visits to and from the UK and earnings and expenditure associated with these visits. The estimates are derived from the International Passenger Survey (127.8 Kb Pdf) (IPS) conducted by ONS at all major air and Eurostar ports in the UK as well as on sea and Eurotunnel routes into and out of the UK.
This report contains provisional Overseas Travel and Tourism estimates for quarter 3 2013. Revised, final estimates will be published in Travel Trends - 2013 in 2014. The quarterly Overseas Travel and Tourism estimates are produced using provisional passenger traffic data to inform the weighting process that is then revised using final data in the production of the annual results published in Travel Trends (see background note: Accuracy of IPS estimates). The title of the quarterly Overseas Travel and Tourism report was renamed in January 2014 to "Overseas Travel and Tourism, Provisional Results for Quarter 3 2013" to clarify that the data contained in these reports are provisional.
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 quarter but not completed until later are not included in estimates for the reported quarter.
Spending associated with visits includes anything spent before, during and after the trip.
Parts of the report refer to countries visited abroad. It should be noted that if a UK resident visited more than one country on a trip abroad, the country recorded as visited in this publication is the country that was visited for the longest period.
Estimates are subject to sampling error, and confidence intervals are provided to help readers interpret the estimates (see background note: Accuracy of IPS estimates). 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 been updated to incorporate Croatia as a member of the European Union and to clairfy the membership of the different groupings. Please see 'Background Notes: Geographical areas' for more information.
The Overseas Travel and Tourism monthly and quarterly bulletins have been 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 have been 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 are:
"Overseas Travel and Tourism, Provisional Results for October 2013" - published on 12th December 2013
"Overseas Travel and Tourism, Provisional Results for Quarter 3, 2013" - due to be published on 16th January 2014
International visits to the UK by overseas residents have continued to increase during 2013. An estimated 9.9 million visits were made in quarter 3 2013, representing a rise of 12.1% when compared with 8.8 million visits for the same period in 2012.
Among all visits to the UK by overseas residents in quarter 3 2013 compared with the same quarter in 2012, holiday visits to the UK recorded the largest increase of 18% from a year earlier. Holiday visits from Europe in particular went up by 19.6%. There was also an increase in the number of visitors to the UK who were visiting friends or relatives (increase of 9.9%). The upward trend in business visits also continued in quarter 3 2013 (increase of 8.1%) and follow increases in the two previous quarters of 2013.
Visits from residents of 'Other countries' this quarter rose by 14.8% to 1.9 million continuing the upward trend seen in recent years. Visits from residents across Europe were also up by 12.4% (to 6.7 million).
Overall, an estimated total of 90.9 million nights were spent in the UK by overseas residents this quarter, up by 9.2% compared to quarter 3 in 2012. The number of nights spent in the UK by overseas visitors from North America, Europe and 'Other countries' has increased by 5.5%, 10.6% and 8.5% respectively.
London saw a rise in the number of overnight visits in 2013 quarter 3, 19.5% higher than a year ago. Overnight visits to England, Scotland and Wales also increased by 13.4%, 18.7% and 15.2% respectively.
Estimated earnings from all visits to the UK grew by 11.4% from £6.5 billion (quarter 3 2012) to £7.2 billion (quarter 3 2013). Spending by residents from 'Other countries' in the UK has been rising steadily within the last decade. In 2013 quarter 3, they spent £2.6 billion, up by 15.7% from the same period in 2013. Earnings from residents of Europe and North America also went up (11.5% and 2.2% respectively).
UK residents made 20.6 million visits abroad in quarter 3 2013, an increase of 6.9% when compared to the same quarter in 2012. Visits to Europe increased by 6.2%, those to longer haul destinations such as North America and 'Other countries' also rose by 8.3% and 11.8% respectively.
Holiday visits continue to be the main reason for UK visits abroad. In quarter 3 2013, there were 14.6 million holiday visits which was an increase of 6.8% compared to the same quarter a year ago. Visits to friends or relatives increased by 12.3% in this quarter, compared to the same period in 2012, and business visits fell by 4.8%.
In quarter 3 2013 the number of nights spent abroad by UK residents was 241.2 million, this was up 9.2% compared with quarter 3 2012. With the number of visits to North America increasing, the overall number of nights spent there by UK residents also increased by 12.1%. Nights spent in Europe also saw a rise of 6.2% in this quarter and there was also a rise of 17.1% for nights spent in 'Other countries'.
UK residents spent £12.7 billion on visits abroad in quarter 3 2013, an increase of 8.3% on the £11.8 billion spent in the same period of 2012. Expenditure in North America was up by 9.4% while spending in Europe and 'Other countries' increased by 7.4% and 11.4% respectively.
Further analysis of overseas travel and tourism trends are provided in the publications:
Monthly Overseas Travel and Tourism, latest publication November 2013 published 16 January 2014; next release December 2013 to be published on the 13 February 2014
Travel Trends, latest publication Travel Trends 2012 published April 19 2013, next publication Travel Trends 2013 to be published April 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, latest publication Quarter 3 2013 published 16 January 2014.
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, more information about the IPS revisions policy is available in the Quality and Methodology Information (331.7 Kb Pdf) .
Note that, although data by the International Passenger Survey (IPS) also feeds into the calculation of migration statistics, the Overseas Travel and Tourism publications do not provide any information relating to International migration.
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Table 5: Overseas earnings and expenditure at constant (1995) prices - includes estimates for the Channel Islands.
Table 7: Nights spent abroad by UK residents includes cruises allocated to 'Other Areas' (see note 8 under 'sample methodology').
Table 11: Spending by overseas residents by area and purpose of visit. See notes 10, 11 and 12 under 'Definitions'.
Trippers who cross the Channel or the North Sea but do not alight from the boat.
Migrants and persons travelling overseas to take up prearranged employment, together with military/diplomatic personnel, merchant seamen and airline personnel on duty.
Overseas residents passing through the UK en route to other destinations (often known as transit passengers) but who do not stay overnight (however any spending whilst here is included in the figures for earnings).
P = Provisional,
R = Revised,
- = Not available or no sample,
0 = visits less than 500 or spending less than £50,000,
VFR = Visiting friends or relatives,
Please Note: Due to rounding, constituent items in the tables may not add exactly to totals.
The figures relate to the number of completed visits, not the number of visitors. Anyone entering or leaving more than once in the same period is counted on each visit. The count of visits relates to UK residents returning to this country and to overseas residents leaving it.
Day-visits (that is trips that do not involve an overnight stay) abroad by UK residents as well as day trips to the UK by overseas residents are included in the figures for visits and expenditure. Details of such visits are shown separately in Tables 8-11 and 19-22 under the heading 'day visits'.Please note they do not cover day visits to or from the Irish Republic across the land border, although they are included in total visits. For overseas residents in transit through the UK see note 9.
An overseas visitor means a person who, being permanently resident in a country outside the United Kingdom, visits the UK for a period of less than 12 months. UK citizens resident overseas for 12 months or more coming home on leave are included in this category. Visits abroad are visits for a period of less than 12 months by people permanently resident in the UK (who may be of foreign nationality).
When a resident of the UK has visited more than one country the entire visit, expenditure and stay are allocated to the country stayed in for the longest time.
Visits for miscellaneous purposes include those for study; to attend sporting events; for shopping; health; religious; or for other purposes; together with visits for more than one purpose when none predominates (for example visits both on business and on holiday). Overseas visitors staying overnight in the UK en route to other destinations are also included in miscellaneous purposes.
Estimates relating to tourist flows across the land bord er between the Irish Republic and Northern Ireland are, for convenience, included in the figures for sea. Where not shown separately, flows through the Channel Tunnel are also included under the figures for sea.
Regional Analysis (Table 13). The information relating to visitors using the land border from the Irish Republic is not collected and so is excluded from the table. Also excluded (except from the 'Total' section) are all visits that did not include an overnight stay in the UK. Visits by overseas residents to Northern Ireland although included in the 'total' column are not separately analysed. More than one region can be visited by an individual whilst in the United Kingdom and so the total of the visits to all regions will therefore sometimes be greater than the total number of visits to the UK.
Adjustments are made to the reported cost of an inclusive tour so that only the amount earned by the country of visit (for example accommodation costs, car hire, etc.) is included. This estimate is then added to an individual's spending to give the total spending in the country of visit (see also note 10).
Length of stay for UK residents cover the time spent, including the journey outside the UK, whilst for overseas residents it refers to the time spent within the UK.
Earnings and expenditure figures cover the same categories of travellers as do the number of visits, except that in addition the earnings figures include the expenditure by same day transit passengers , and the foreign exchange earnings and expenditure due to travel relating to the Channel Islands. They exclude payments for air, sea and rail travel to and from the UK. For any traveller on an inclusive tour an estimate of the return fare is deducted from the total tour price.
Earnings do not include the personal export of cars that have been purchased in the United Kingdom by overseas residents. Similarly spending excludes the personal import of cars by UK residents.
An estimate for purchases by overseas visitors at airport duty free shops is included in the figures for earnings. Such purchases on British carriers are still excluded.
North America: Canada (including Greenland and St Pierre at Miquelon), USA (including Puerto Rico and US Virgin Islands).
Europe: All countries listed within the European Union (see below for listing) plus the following central and 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.
North Africa: Algeria, Libya, Morocco and Sudan.
Other Middle East: Bahrain; Iran; Iraq; Jordan; Kuwait; Lebanon; Oman; Qatar; Saudi Arabia; Syria; and the Yemen.
Central and South America: Argentina; Belize; Bolivia; British Antarctica; Brazil; Chile; Colombia; Costa Rica; Ecuador; El Salvador; the Falkland Islands; French Guiana; Guatemala; Guyana; Honduras; Nicaragua; Panama (including Canal Zone); Paraguay; Peru; Surinam; Uruguay; and Venezuela.
Other Caribbean: Antigua; Bahamas; Bermuda; British Virgin Islands; Cayman Islands; Cuba; Dominica; the Dominican Republic; Grenada; Haiti; Martinique; Montserrat; St Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla; St. Lucia; St. Vincent and the Grenadines; Trinidad and Tobago; Turks and the Caicos Islands.
* 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.
** 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.
Holiday: Holiday/pleasure, to play amateur sport, cruise.
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
The International Passenger Survey (IPS) produces estimates that are based on interviews with a stratified random sample of passengers entering and leaving the UK on the principle air, tunnel and sea routes. The main features of the stratification are: mode of transport (that is air, tunnel or sea), port and time of day.
The frequency of sampling within each stratum depends mainly on the variation of tourist expenditure and on the volume of migrants, for which the survey is also used to collect statistics. To collect Overseas Travel and Tourism information, travellers passing through passport control are randomly selected for interview and in all some 295,000 interviews were conducted in 2012. Only interviews carried out at the end of a visit are used to generate estimates of expenditure and stay. Of these interviews around 45,000 provided the published information on foreign visitors to the UK and around 59,000 were used for the estimate of UK residents travelling abroad. The interviews were conducted on a purely voluntary and anonymous basis.
Despite the introduction in April 1999 of interviewing on air and sea routes to and from the Irish Republic the results from the IPS are still supplemented with estimates of travel between UK and the Irish Republic over the land border where no IPS interviewing takes place. Estimates for travel by land are based on information provided by the Central Statistics Office of the Irish Republic. Estimates of earnings and expenditure are also supplemented with figures from the Economic Advisor's Office of the States of Jersey, who provide information about the Channel Islands.
Over 95% of passengers entering and leaving the UK (excluding those travelling by land to and from the Irish Republic) travel on routes covered by the survey. The remainder are either passengers travelling at night when interviewing is suspended, or on those routes too small in volume to be covered. For those passengers, estimates are made and input into the main results of the survey.
At the major airports a sample of half days is taken and a fixed proportion of passengers are interviewed, whilst the smaller airports are sampled occasionally with the number of visits depending on the number of international passengers.
On the sea routes either particular cross-channel sailings are sampled and a fixed proportion of passengers interviewed on board, or a sample of days is taken and the passengers interviewed on the quay side.
In all, approximately 295,000 travellers (0.2% of the total travellers) were interviewed in 2012; this proportion varies from port to port.
UK residents who left a cruise boat at a foreign port and returned home on a scheduled air or sea service (e.g. fly-cruises) are included in the IPS. Information on the number of passengers on cruises finishing in the UK is estimated in terms of the number of visits, length of stay and expenditure. These estimates are added to the cruise data collected from the IPS and included under the headings for 'other areas', 'holiday', and 'sea'. In 2010 a review took place of the methodology used to estimate the number of such visits. This review has led to more accurate methodology for estimating these visits and has resulted in an annual increase from approximately 20,000 to 200,000 such visits. The new estimates have been included since the publication Travel Trends 2010, published in late July 2011.
A complex weighting procedure is used in the survey results taking account of passengers movement statistics produced by the BAA plc and the Civil Aviation Authority for air traffic by the Department for Transport for sea traffic. For Heathrow, Gatwick and Manchester allowances are made for passengers in transit who do not pass through passport control and hence do not cross the IPS counting line.
For further information please read the IPS Methodology Report.
1. Figures for the most recent quarter are provisional and subject to revision in light of additional passenger data obtained at the end of each year.
IPS quarterly estimates are revised in line with the IPS revisions policy . The revisions policy is available in the IPS Quality and Methodology Information (331.7 Kb Pdf) paper to assist users in the understanding of the cycle and frequency of data revisions. Users of this report are strongly advised to read this policy before using this data for research or policy related purposes.
Planned revisions usually arise from either the receipt of revised passenger traffic data or the correction of errors to existing data identified later in the annual processing cycle. Those of significant magnitude will be highlighted and explained.
Revisions to published quarterly IPS estimates can be expected in the publication of the annual overseas travel and tourism report (Travel Trends).
All other revisions will be regarded as unplanned and will be dealt with by non-standard releases. All revisions will be released in compliance with the same principles as other new information. Please refer to the ONS guide to statistical revisions.
2. 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.
3. The estimates produced from the IPS are subject to sampling errors that result because not every traveller to or from 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 smaller is its sampling error. The survey sample size is approximately 70,000 per quarter.
Table 1 shows the 95% confidence intervals for the main quarterly estimates of the total number of visits, nights and expenditure for both overseas residents visiting the UK and UK residents going abroad. These represent the interval into which there are 19 chances out of 20 that the true figure (had all travellers been surveyed) would lie.
If, for example, the relative 95% confidence interval relating to an estimate of 10,000 was 5.0% there would be 19 chances out of 20 that the true figure (if all travellers had been surveyed) would lie in the range 9,500 to 10,500.
|Estimate||Relative 95% Confidence Interval (+/- % the estimate)|
|Overseas visitors to the UK|
|Number of visits ('000s)||9,852||3.5%|
|Total earnings (£million)||7,214||5.1%|
|Number of visitor nights ('000s)||90,878||4.6%|
|UK residents going abroad|
|Number of visits ('000s)||20,551||1.6%|
|Total earnings (£million)||12,739||2.7%|
|Number of visitor nights ('000s)||241,246||3.1%|
Sampling errors relating to visits, nights and expenditure across regions of the world and purpose groups together with countries visited / visits from and region of the UK visited are provided within the Confidence intervals, Q3 2013 tables. (40.5 Kb Excel sheet)
Further guidance for readers is provided about the quality of Overseas Travel & Tourism estimates (404.8 Kb Pdf) .
One indication of the reliability of the key indicators in this release can be obtained by monitoring the size of revisions. The monthly statistical bulletin provides information about the size and pattern of revisions to the quarterly IPS data 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)
Additional spreadsheets giving details of how the revisions have effected the provisional monthly and quarterly estimates are available in the data section of the quarterly publication. With the first being available in Overseas Travel and Tourism, Provisional Results for Q3 2013 due to be published on the 16th January 2014.
Traffic at all airports and seaports is monitored regularly to assess if they should be included in the IPS sample. As a consequence Liverpool and Prestwick airports were introduced into the sample at the beginning of 2005. Between 2000 and 2004, traffic through Liverpool had quadrupled to 'over two and a half million' international passengers, while at Prestwick there was a fivefold increase to nearly 'one and a half million' passengers over the same period. The inclusion of these ports in the IPS sample were shown to cause a discontinuity in regional results and methodology was modified to account for this. Similarly in early 2008 each of Doncaster, Bournemouth, Southampton and Heathrow Terminal 5 were added to the sample and in 2009 Aberdeen and Belfast International airports were added.
From January 2009 certain elements of the IPS have been revised to address recommendations put forward by the Interdepartmental Task Force on Migration Statistics, 2006. The changes involve revision to sample design, weighting and imputation methodology. These changes resulted in some discontinuity in estimates. An analysis was conducted and published in 2009. More details are available from the IPS team.
The model used to produce seasonal adjustment estimates is reviewed approximately every two years. A review was conducted in late 2009 and the new model was used for the first time to produce the seasonally adjusted estimates used in the December 2009 'Statistical Bulletin' publication. Details of the seasonal adjustment model can be obtained from the IPS team using the contact details attached.
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.
There were a number of special events in 2012. The Diamond Jubilee celebrations saw changes to the normal pattern of Bank holidays in May and June, and an additional day's holiday in June; all of these changes affected estimates for quarter 2 of 2012, and an article gave more information on how estimates were compiled over this period. The Olympics took place from 27 July to 12 August 2012 (with a few events starting on 25 July), and Paralympics from 29 August to 9 September. The direct effect of the Olympics and Paralympics were reflected in the estimates for the months of quarter 3 of 2012. More details of how certain series were expected to be affected were given in an Information Note. A detailed article (229 Kb Pdf) describing possible effects on GDP and comparing with earlier Olympic Games was published by ONS on 25 October. Wider effects, for example the presence of the Olympics influencing the number of non-Olympic tourist visits, may of course have affected any of the summer months.
The result of these special events in 2012 has been to introduce additional uncertainty in the interpretation of movements between Q2 and Q3 and between Q3 and Q4. Users should therefore consider all information available when interpreting the statistics.
IPS data for the years 1993 onwards are available online from www.ons.gov.uk. Travelpac is a free and simple to use dataset for those wishing to make further analyses of IPS data. It contains files provided in Excel and SPSS formats. More details can be found at Travelpac, Q3 2013.
These are published in the Overseas Travel and Tourism Statistical Bulletin available from:
Office for National Statistics, Government Buildings, Cardiff Road, Newport, NP10 8XG.
Telephone: +44 (0)1633 455296 or from the ONS website at www.ons.gov.uk.
More detailed statistics covering 2002 to 2012 may be found in the 2012 annual report, Travel Trends which is produced by the ONS. A copy can be downloaded at Travel Trends, 2012.
For general questions about the IPS and requests for ad hoc data analysis (a service governed by the ONS Income and Charging policy):
Telephone: +44 (0)1633 455678
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.
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Next publication: 10 July 2014
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