14 August 2015, 09:30am
A minor error has been identified due to a change in the grouping of purpose codes used in the creation of regional statistics for Travel Trends, 2014. This slightly affects the distribution of visits to and spending in UK regions only. The affected components have been corrected.
20 May 2015, 09:30am
The Overseas Travel and Tourism expenditure estimates were re-instated as National Statistics following a formal review by the UK Statistics Authority for their compliance with the Code of Practice for Official Statistics. On 18 November 2014 ONS announced errors had been identified in the expenditure estimates for UK residents' visits abroad and overseas residents' visits to the UK within the Overseas Travel and Tourism release and National Statistics status removed. The errors in the expenditure estimates affected data between January 2014 and September 2014 and because the data feeds into the imports and exports of service also affected the UK Trade releases over the same period. Further information can be found within the official ONS statement regarding the error. These errors have been corrected in the republished 2014 monthly and quarterly bulletins.
Please note that during the annual data processing, the 2014 data have been revised to include updated factors for imbalance and rail expenditure imputation, resulting in larger changes than usually observed between monthly and quarterly statistical bulletins and the annual Travel Trends publication. We identified that, for consistency, these updated factors should be applied to the 2013 Q3 and Q4 data. Also, an error in the treatment of the unsampled traffic data for the Quarter 1 data was corrected during the annual data processing. The data tables in section 6 of Travel Trends, 2014 include corrected Quarter 1 data.
ONS apologises for any inconvenience.Back to table of contents
Trends in visits to the UK by overseas residents
There was an increase in the number of visits to the UK by overseas residents for the fourth consecutive year in 2014, and the highest number of visits since the IPS began in 1961. It also had the highest recorded spending
In 2014 overseas residents made 34.4 million visits to the UK, 5.2% higher than in 2013
Earnings from visits to the UK reached a record level of spending in the UK of £21.8 billion, they increased by £0.6 billion (2.8%) compared to 2013
The number of nights spent in the UK rose to 264.6 million, an increase of 7.8% compared to the previous year
Visits from North America and Europe increased in 2014 by 3.3% and 6.6% respectively. Spending from North America and Europe also grew by 11.6% and 4.2%. However, visits and spending by visitors from "Other Countries" showed a decline of 0.2% and 2.9% respectively
Holidays remain the main reason for visits to the UK, accounting for 13.6 million visits, a rise of 7.2% compared with 2013. Business visits and visits to friends and family both showed a growth of 4.8%
A record 17.4 million overnight visits to London were made by overseas residents in 2014, an increase of 0.6 million (3.5%) from 2013, and £11.8 billion was spent on these visits.
Overnight visits to the rest of England grew by 5.1% to 14.2 million. Visits to Scotland and Wales also continued to rise in 2014, with Scottish visits up 11.5% and Welsh up 7.3%
Trends in visits abroad by UK residents
UK residents made 4.0% more visits abroad and spent £1.0 billion (3.0%) more during these visits in 2014 than 2013. The length of visit also increased, up 1.9% to 616.5 million nights.
UK residents made 60.1 million visits abroad in 2014
The number of visits abroad for holidays grew (up 3.7%) as did visits abroad to friends or family and for business (up 7.8% and 0.1% respectively). Spending on holidays and visits to friends and family increased by 4.5% and 6.5% respectively, while expenditure on business visits abroad fell 3.8%
Visits to North America, Europe and "Other Countries" grew in 2014, up 8.5%, 3.8% and 3.2% respectively. Spending in these regions also increased by 9.9%, 1.3% and 3.8% respectively
Spain continued to be the top destination for UK residents visiting abroad, accounting for 12.2 million visits, a 5.4% increase from the previous year, and accounting for 20.4% of the total number of visits abroad
How this publication may benefit users
Travel Trends is an annual report that provides estimates and profiles of travel and tourism visits (those of less than 12 months' duration) and associated earnings and expenditure between the UK and the rest of the world. The International Passenger Survey (IPS) has been providing the source data for travel and tourism since 1961.
International travel and tourism involves the exchange of approximately £50 billion of trade each year. Earnings to the UK account for over £18 billion of the £50 billion, equating to approximately 10% of total export of services. Expenditure abroad accounts for over 25% of total imports of services. The information provided in this report is used in a number of ways, including:
to track earnings and expenditure, as an important input to measuring balance of payments.
to understand how the volume of visits and earnings to the UK develops, which can be compared with statistics from other countries to assess how effective the UK is in attracting visits from key parts of the world, for different purposes and among different demographic groups.
to help understand how particular events held in the UK (for example, the London 2012 Olympic Games and Paralympics) link to visits and spending, which can aid future decision making.
to provide insights into how effective different parts of the UK are in attracting visits and earnings, in total and from different parts of the world and for different purposes.
to provide profiles of UK residents travelling to different parts of the world, to aid government and industry in developing policy and strategy.
Understanding overseas travel and tourism statistics
The estimates contained in Travel Trends are drawn from interviews conducted for our International Passenger Survey (350.4 Kb Pdf) (IPS). They are final estimates for 2014, replacing provisional estimates published previously. The IPS began in 1961, meaning that a substantial amount of historical travel and tourism information is available. The Travel Trends 2010 publication included a history of the survey, together with a profile of travel and tourism across the decades from the 1960s. It is a useful source for understanding longer term trends in combination with shorter term trends that will be presented in this (Travel Trends 2014) publication.
Historical analysis such as that included in Travel Trends 2010, has emphasised that international travel and tourism is impacted by a number of factors, such as currency exchange rates, weather, government policy, economic and political conditions in the UK and abroad, and special events. It is not possible to identify the exact impact of each aspect on travel and tourism, as recognised in our Special Events policy.
The estimates contained in Travel Trends (as well as our other Overseas Travel and Tourism statistics) are subject to sampling errors, which are driven by the fact that IPS is a survey. It is important to understand the factors that dictate the quality of the estimates. (404.8 Kb Pdf). Confidence intervals relating to a wide range of estimates are provided in Appendix E of this publication and the data tables section.
Strengths and limitations of the travel and tourism data, sourced from the IPS, can be found in the 'IPS user guide vol 1: background and methodology' (423 Kb Pdf).Back to table of contents
The UK Statistics Authority has designated these statistics as National Statistics, in accordance with the Statistics and Registration Service Act 2007 and signifying compliance with the Code of Practice for Official Statistics.
Designation can be broadly interpreted to mean that the statistics:
meet identified user needs;
are well explained and readily accessible;
are produced according to sound methods; and
are managed impartially and objectively in the public interest.
Once statistics have been designated as National Statistics it is a statutory requirement that the Code of Practice shall continue to be observed.
The Overseas Travel and Tourism expenditure estimates were re-instated as National Statistics following a formal review by the UK Statistics Authority for their compliance with the Code of Practice for Official Statistics. On 18 November 2014 ONS announced errors had been identified in the expenditure estimates for UK residents' visits abroad and overseas residents' visits to the UK within the Overseas Travel and Tourism release and National Statistics status removed. The errors in the expenditure estimates affected data between January 2014 and September 2014 and because the data feeds into the imports and exports of service also affected the UK Trade releases over the same period. Further information can be found within the official ONS statement regarding the error. These errors have been corrected in the republished 2014 monthly and quarterly bulletins.Back to table of contents
In addition to the standard annual data being updated to replace provisional estimates, the 2014 data have been revised to include updated factors for imbalance and rail expenditure imputation, resulting in larger changes than usually observed between monthly and quarterly statistical bulletins and the annual Travel Trends publication; the updated factors have also been extended back to Quarter 3 (July to Sept) and Quarter 4 (Oct to Dec) in 2013 for consistency. Also, an error in the treatment of the unsampled traffic data for the Quarter 1 data was corrected during the annual data processing. The data tables in section 6 of Travel Trends, 2014 include corrected Quarter 1 data.
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, so any visits commencing in the reported year but not completed until later are not included in estimates for the reported year.
Spending associated with visits includes anything spent before, during and after the trip.
Parts of the report refer to countries visited abroad; note 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.
Following Croatia joining the European Union on 1 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. ('Background notes: geographical areas' has more information.Back to table of contents
The report includes several data tables, based mostly on annual data although some splits by quarter are included. All tables which appeared in sections 1 to 5 last year have been retained in this edition. Section 6 is a set of tables providing a breakdown of key estimates by quarter. These tables are the same as those published in the quarterly overseas travel and tourism series, under which provisional estimates for quarters 1, 2 and 3 were published previously. In addition, confidence intervals relating to a wide range of estimates in this report are also provided in section 7. These data tables are presented in sections, containing information on:Back to table of contents
The number of visits to the UK from overseas residents rose by 5.2% to 34.4 million in 2014, from 32.7 million in 2013. This is the fourth consecutive year that overseas visits to the UK has increased and a record high for the IPS in the UK.
Similarly, UK residents’ visits abroad have also increased in 2014, up 4.0% to 60.1 million visits, from 57.8 million in 2013. This is the highest number of visits observed since the post recession decline in visits abroad and brings the number of visits to a level similar to that observed in 2003.
The earnings to the UK from overseas residents is also at its highest level since the survey began in 1961, with an increase from £21.3 billion in 2013 to £21.8 billion in 2014. The proportional increase in expenditure is less than for visits (2.8% compared with 5.2%), however this may be a reflection of changing travel patterns, exchange rate movements and improving economic conditions in the UK. Spending abroad by UK residents has now reached its second highest level of the time series at £35.5 billion, a 3.0% increase from 2013. The previous peak was £36.8 billion in 2008.Back to table of contents
The number of visits to the UK by foreign residents rose in every quarter of 2014, when compared with 2013. The largest increase was in Quarter 1 (Jan to Mar), where visits grew from 6.3 million in 2013, to 6.8 million in 2014, an increase of 7.5%.
Spending by overseas residents in the UK rose in the first 3 quarters of 2014. The largest increase was in Quarter 1 (Jan to Mar), growing from £3.6 billion in 2013, to £3.9 billion in 2014, an increase of 8.9%. Quarter 4 (Oct to Dec) of 2014 showed a decrease of 2.4% to £5.1 billion in 2014, when compared to the final quarter of 2013.
Holiday visits remain the primary reason for overseas residents' visits to the UK. The number of holiday visits made to the UK in 2014 was 13.6 million, the highest number recorded by the survey and an increase of 7.2% compared with 2013. The number of overseas residents visiting friends and relatives has also reached a record high in 2014 at 9.8 million visits. Business visits continued to show a recovery following a sharp decline in 2009, with a total of 8.3 million visits in 2014, up 4.8% compared to 7.9 million in 2013.
Spending by overseas residents during visits to the UK increased for all main purposes of visit except business in 2014. Spending for overseas residents visiting for holidays rose 2.2%, from £8.6 billion in 2013, to £8.7 billion in 2014, the highest figure on record. Spending on business had been increasing steadily following a dip in 2009, but decreased 0.4% in 2014 to £5.0 billion. Spending by overseas residents visiting friends and family also saw a small rise in 2014, growing 1.1% to £4.6 billion. (Please note that the expenditure amounts quoted in this paragraph were corrected to £ billion on 25/11/2015).
Visiting the UK for a holiday was the most popular reason for visitors from all regions of the world, as shown in Figure 7. Those travelling further distances (from North America and "Other Countries") were more likely to come for a holiday rather than those from Europe (42.1% and 43.5% compared with 38.3%, respectively). Visitors from "Other Countries" were twice as likely to be visiting their friends and family (32.4%) than be visiting the UK for business reasons (15.8%). However, similar proportions of visitors from both Europe and North America visited the UK for business reasons (26.3% and 20.9% respectively) as visited friends and family (27.7% and 27.4%).
The expenditure by European visitors increased for all purposes, whereas the expenditure by North American visitors increased for all purposes except for those on business, which showed a 3.7% drop to £976 million, in 2014. Visitors from "Other countries" showed a drop in expenditure for visits for holidays, business and visiting friends or relatives.
The average length of stay in the UK has remained fairly constant, at around 7.5 nights, between 2010 and 2014. In 2014, the average length of stay in the UK was 7.7 nights. The number of nights stayed in the UK varies with residents from different regions of the world, with those travelling the furthest staying the longest. Visitors from Europe stayed an average of 6.1 nights in the UK, those from North America stayed 9.4 nights (an increase from 8.3 nights in 2013), and visitors from "Other Countries" stayed an average of 14.3 nights. Business trips tended to be shorter length with an average of 4.1 nights in 2014. Holiday visits averaged 6.1 nights, with longer stays for those visiting friends or relatives, which have been at an average of over 10 nights every year since 2007.
Average spend per day for all visits decreased in 2014 following 8 years of increases; it now stands at £82, down from £86 in 2013. European visitors spent less on average per visit (£439) and per day (£72) compared with visitors from North America (£941 per visit, £100 per day) and "Other Countries" (£1,344 per visit, £94 per day). This is true for all purposes. Visitors from "Other Countries" spent more on average per day compared with visitors from North America or Europe for all purposes except business trips, where North American visitors spent an average of £218 per day compared with £171 per day for business travellers from "Other Countries".
The top countries visiting the UK has remained relatively consistent over time, with the order of the top 4 staying the same since 2010. These countries are France, Germany, USA and the Irish Republic. In 2014 residents from France made the most visits to the UK, as has been the case since 2008. Visits from France increased again during 2014 growing by 3.5% compared with 2013, to a total of 4.1 million visits. German residents’ visits to the UK, increased by 5.6% in 2014 to 3.2 million. Residents of the USA were the third most popular visitors to the UK, increasing by 7.1% to 3.0 million.
Residents of the USA continue to be the highest spenders during trips to the UK, contributing £2.9 billion to the UK economy in 2014 which was a rise of 16.0%, compared to £2.5 billion in 2013. German residents were the next highest spenders, spending £1.5 billion, up 8.8% from 2013. French residents spent marginally less at £1.4 billion, up 4.8% from 2013. Residents from both "Other Asia" and "Other Middle East" countries appear in the top 10 list of highest spending countries (Figure 10), despite not appearing in the top 10 list of visitors. Both regions saw large increases in spending from 2012 to 2013, which have been followed by a decrease in 2014, of 2.8% and 10.5% respectively.
With the exception of Poland, the Irish Republic and Spain, holiday was the most popular reason for visiting the UK for residents from the top 10 visiting countries. Among visitors from the Irish Republic 40.0% of visits were to visit friends and family compared with only 23.7% visiting for a holiday and 24.7% for business reasons. Visitors from Poland were more likely to be visiting the UK for business reasons (42.7%) or to visit friends and family (37.0%) than for a holiday (17.3%). Residents of Spain were slightly more likely to visit friends and relatives (37.0%) than to visit for a holiday (36.6%). Of the top 10 countries, Italian and Belgian residents were most likely to be visiting for holidays, 50.6% and 50.4% respectively, while Australian visitors were the least likely to be visiting on business (only 7.6% of visits), but the most likely to be visiting friends and family (41.2%).
All areas of the UK experienced growth in visits from overseas residents during 2014 compared to 2013. This was primarily due to the rise in visits from European residents, which increased by 6.2% in England, 10.5% in Scotland and 11.9% in Wales. Scotland saw a large increase in the number of North American visitors, up 28.2% to 0.5 million. This was driven by an increase in Quarters 2 and 3 (Apr to Sept). As 2014 was the "Year of Homecoming" in Scotland, and Scotland also hosted a number of international events such as the Commonwealth Games and Ryder Cup, which may have been partly responsible for the additional visitors.
London experienced a growth of 0.6 million (3.5%) overnight visits from overseas residents in 2014, bringing the total number of visitors to London to 17.4 million. Holiday visits accounted for the largest proportion of the increase in visits (68.3%), while business visits and visits to friends and family also grew. Overnight visits to the rest of England also saw an increase, with the increase in visiting friends or relatives accounting for 40.6% of the growth. Visits to Scotland and Wales also grew in 2014 (11.5% and 7.3% respectively), with visits for holidays accounting for 67.9% of the rise in visits to Scotland and 33.3% of the growth in visits to Wales during 2014.
Earnings associated with overnight visits to London grew by £325 million, a 2.8% increase. Spending in the rest of England also increased (1.4%), from £7.2 billion in 2013 to £7.3 billion in 2014. Visitors to Scotland spent 10.1% more in 2014 (£1.8 billion) and spending in Wales grew by 4.6%, an increase of £16 million compared with 2013.
Overnight visits to individual cities remained the same as in 2013, with the most popular 10 cities stayed in by overseas residents remaining unchanged. Excluding London the top 20 most visited destinations are shown in (Figure 8). The top 7 cities by expenditure shows a slightly different profile, with higher spending experienced in Oxford and Cambridge (£325 million and £304 million respectively) than Birmingham and Glasgow (£300 million and £245 million respectively). The main income for all of the top 10 cities (by visits) in 2014 came from European visitors, with the exception of Glasgow where the highest proportion of income (41.0%) came from visitors from "Other Countries". The majority of the visitors to the top 10 cities (by visits) came for a holiday, with the exception of Manchester and Birmingham where the majority came for business purposes, and Bristol and Cambridge where the largest proportion of visitors were visiting friends and relatives.Back to table of contents
The number of visits abroad by UK residents rose in every quarter of 2014, compared with 2013. The largest increase was in Quarter 4 (Oct to Dec) where visits increased by 5.7% to 12.2 million in 2014 from 11.6 million in 2013. Spending by UK residents abroad grew in Quarters 1 (Jan to Mar), 3 (Jul to Sept) and 4 (Oct to Dec) of 2014. The largest growth was in Quarter 1 (Jan to Mar) where spending rose to £6.7 billion. Quarter 2 saw a decrease of 1.3%, compared with 2013, to £9.2 billion.
Following a period of negligible growth between 2010 and 2012, 2014 has shown an increase in the number of holiday visits, growing 3.7% from 37.1 million in 2013, to 38.5 million in 2014. Business visits have remained consistent over the last 4 years, with 6.8 million visits in 2014. The number of visits to friends and family has continued to grow since 2010 to a record high in 2014. This remains the second most popular reason for visits abroad, with 13.3 million UK residents travelling abroad to visit friends and family in 2014.
When comparing UK residents visits by region of visit, all regions (North America, Europe and "Other Countries") have reached their highest number of visits since the pre-recession peak in 2008.The largest change, in terms of numbers, was observed in visits to Europe, which increased from 45.3 million in 2013 to 47.0 million visits in 2014. However, the largest proportional change was for North America, which increased 8.5% to 3.7 million visits. Spending by UK residents travelling to North America also increased by 9.9% from £3.9 billion to £4.3 billion in 2014.
UK residents travelling abroad for holiday visits spent £24.4 billion in 2014, an increase of 4.5% compared with 2013. Spending during visits to friends and relatives has also shown a growth of 6.5%, from £5.2 billion in 2013 to £5.5 billion in 2014. However, despite the small increase in visits, expenditure on business trips has decreased by 3.8% to £4.5 billion since 2013. This has been driven by a decrease in business expenditure in "Other Countries".
The overall average length of stay abroad, 10.3 nights, has remained stable throughout 2009 to 2014. The average length of stay for visits to Europe was 8.0 nights and 14.3 nights for visits to North America in 2014. As would be expected, the further people travelled abroad, the longer they stayed; the average length of stay for visits to "Other Countries" was 20.2 nights (down from 21.2 nights in 2013). Within this figure, the average length of stay in countries such as Australia and New Zealand was much larger (33.9 and 34.3 respectively).
Average spend per day on all visits abroad continued to rise slowly in 2014 and now stands at £58, up £1 from the £57 per day average in 2013. UK residents continue to spend most on average per day during business trips (£125), while the least is spent visiting friends or relatives (£28). Average spend per day continues to be highest for trips to North America (£82).
The top 5 countries visited by UK residents have remained consistent since 2010 (see figure 18). Spain continues to top the list in 2014 at 12.2m visits, a 5.4% increase from 2013. Spanish visits now account for 20.4% of the total number of visits abroad. The number of UK residents visiting France has increased slightly 0.3% in 2014 to 8.8 million, this is following a decrease in visits from 2010 to 2013.
The top 5 countries by expenditure differ slightly to those by visits, with the Irish Republic being replaced by Portugal. The total UK residents’ expenditure is highest in Spain, with total spending increasing by 3.9% in 2014 to a total of £6.1 billion, which accounts for 17.3% of all spending by UK residents on visits abroad. The USA was the next highest total in 2014 at £3.9 billion (a 10.1% increase from 2013), replacing France, which has been the second highest since 2009. Despite the overall growth in expenditure, 2 of the top 5 visited countries, France and Italy, experienced a decrease in expenditure (2.4% and 1.4% respectively). Figure 19 shows the top 10 countries in terms of spending abroad by UK residents, which remain the same as 2013.Back to table of contents
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