Overseas residents made 8.0 million visits to the UK in Quarter 2 (Apr to June) 2022; this was much higher than in Quarter 2 2021, when just 346,000 visits were made by air when travel restrictions were in place.
Overseas residents spent £6.8 billion on their visits to the UK in Quarter 2 2022, an increase of £6.3 billion compared with air visits in Quarter 2 2021.
UK residents made 20.4 million visits abroad in Quarter 2 2022; this compares with a total of 1.2 million visits by air in Quarter 2 2021.
UK residents spent £15.8 billion on visits abroad in Quarter 2 2022; this was £14.5 billion more than they spent in Quarter 2 2021.
Holidays were the most popular reason for both overseas residents and UK residents for travelling in Quarter 2 2022; this has reverted to a more traditional reason after the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic when the most common reason for travel was to see friends and relatives.
Overseas residents made a total of 8.0 million visits to the UK during Quarter 2 (Apr to June) 2022, compared with 346,000 visits by air in Quarter 2 2021. The large increase in visits can be attributed to the easing of coronavirus (COVID-19) travel restrictions towards the end of 2021.
There were 10.4 million overseas visits made by overseas residents in Quarter 2 2019, before the coronavirus pandemic. In Quarter 2 2022, visits fell by 22% to 8.0 million and spending also decreased by 0.9% to £6.8 billion when compared with Quarter 2 2019. This shows visitor numbers and spending are heading towards pre-pandemic levels, but spending is growing at a faster rate.
Visits to the UK by overseas visitors increased in Quarter 2 2022 when compared with the same period a year earlier. Taking holidays was the most popular reason for visiting the UK, with an increase from 17,000 to 3.3 million visits. Visiting friends or relatives increased from 216,000 to 2.9 million visits, and business trips increased from 56,000 to 1.3 million. This is a change from recent quarters, when visiting friends and relatives was the most popular reason.
Estimated spending in the UK by overseas visitors was £6.8 billion in Quarter 2 2022, compared with £545 million in Quarter 2 2021. An increase in spending was seen for all areas of the world but the largest rise was for residents from North America. Travel abroad by US residents was restricted in the first half of 2021 and the number of visits from these residents has increased from 51,000 in Quarter 2 2021 to 1.6 million this quarter. Pre-pandemic, residents from North America also tended to spend more per visit than residents from other regions of the world.
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UK residents made 20.4 million visits abroad in Quarter 2 (Apr to June) 2022. This compares with 1.2 million visits by air in the same quarter in 2021. This large increase in visits abroad could be attributed to the lifting of coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic travel restrictions. Visits abroad in Quarter 2 2022 were still lower than pre-pandemic levels; down by 21% on Quarter 2 2019. Disruptions at some airports across the UK caused by staff shortages and the rising cost of living could be partly accountable for this.
The largest number of visits abroad were made to Europe (16.4 million), an increase of 15.6 million visits from Quarter 2 2021.
In Quarter 2 2022, holidays have returned as the most common reason for UK residents’ visits abroad, accounting for 66% of all visits (13.3 million). The next most common reason for travelling was to visit friends or family. There were 5.1 million visits made for this reason.
UK residents spent £15.8 billion during visits abroad in Quarter 2 2022. This was an increase of £14.5 billion when compared with the same period in 2021. This level of spending is similar to pre-pandemic estimates and could be an indication of the increased cost of living in the UK.
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Estimates of overseas residents’ visits and spending in the UK
Dataset | Released on 7 November 2022
Quarterly estimates of overseas residents’ visits and spending from the International Passenger Survey, using administrative sources and modelling.
Estimates of UK residents’ visits and spending abroad
Dataset | Released on 7 November 2022
Quarterly estimates of UK residents’ visits and spending abroad from the International Passenger Survey, using administrative sources and modelling.
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.
An overseas visitor is a person who, being permanently resident in a country outside the UK, visits the UK for a period of less than 12 months. UK citizens residing 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 residing in the UK (who may be of foreign nationality).
Visiting multiple countries
When a resident of the UK has visited more than one country, expenditure and stay are allocated to the country that was stayed in for the longest time.
Visits for miscellaneous purposes include:
- those for study
- those to attend sporting events
- those for shopping
- religious events
- other purposes
It also includes 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 on their way to other destinations are also included in miscellaneous purposes.
Earnings and expenditure
Earnings refer to spending in the UK by overseas residents, whereas expenditure refers to spending abroad by UK residents.Back to table of contents
Accuracy of the International Passenger Survey (IPS) estimates
The estimates presented in this article for the whole of 2020 must be treated with particular caution, since the methods used have not been fully scrutinised or tested.
The accuracy of the estimates is expressed in terms of confidence intervals, which are shown in the data tables associated with this publication. For more information on how we measure and communicate uncertainty for our surveys, see our Uncertainty and how we measure it web page.
Collection of the IPS data
IPS data are collected by a team of over 200 interviewers who are recruited and trained specifically to work on the IPS. Interviews are carried out at air and sea ports, on board vessels leaving or returning to the UK, or on board the Eurotunnel Trains. Interviews are carried out on all days of the year, apart from Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day.
Further guidance is available about the quality of overseas travel and tourism estimates in our IPS Quality and methodology information (QMI) report. This report will be updated shortly to reflect recent changes to the survey’s processes.Back to table of contents
Office for National Statistics (ONS), released 7 November 2022, ONS website, statistical bulletin, Overseas travel and tourism, provisional: April to June 2022
Contact details for this Statistical bulletin
Telephone: +44 1633 455270