1. Main points

  • Overseas residents made four million visits to the UK in July 2017; this has increased by 6% when compared with July 2016.

  • UK residents made 6.9 million visits abroad in July 2017; this has decreased by 2% when compared with July 2016.

  • Overseas residents spent £2.7 billion on their visits to the UK in July 2017; this is an increase of 3% when compared with July 2016.

  • UK residents spent £4.5 billion on their visits abroad in July 2017, a 2% decrease when compared with July 2016.

Back to table of contents

2. Things you need to know about this release

Estimates contained in this bulletin are produced from responses provided by international passengers arriving in and departing from the UK, sampled on our International Passenger Survey (IPS).

Responses to the survey are scaled up to represent all passengers using information on total international passenger traffic for the reporting period.

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

The reported spend for visits includes any spending associated (excluding fares) with the visit, which occur before, during or after the trip.

Parts of the bulletin 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 you interpret the estimates (see background note: Accuracy of IPS estimates). Further guidance is available about the quality of overseas travel and tourism estimates.

Overseas travel and tourism monthly estimates are revised during the processing of the quarterly dataset and again during the processing of the annual dataset. This bulletin contains provisional overseas travel and tourism estimates to and from the UK for July 2017. Revised, final estimates for 2016 were published in Travel trends 2016 on 18 May 2017.

Back to table of contents

7. Quality and methodology

The International Passenger Survey Quality and Methodology Information document contains important information on:

  • the strengths and limitations of the data and how it compares with related data
  • uses and users of the data
  • how the output was created
  • the quality of the output including the accuracy of the data

The International Passenger Survey Methodological Information outlines definitions and sample methodology.

Accuracy of IPS estimates

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.

International Passenger Survey (IPS) monthly estimates are revised in line with the IPS revisions policy. The revisions policy is available in the IPS quality and methodology report, to assist you in the understanding of the cycle and frequency of data revisions. You are strongly advised to read this policy before using this data for research or policy-related purposes.

Planned revisions usually arise from the receipt of revised passenger traffic data. Unplanned revisions are made to correct errors to existing data, identified later in the quarterly and annual processing cycle. Those of significant magnitude will be highlighted and explained.

Revisions to published monthly IPS estimates can be expected at the following times in the normal overseas travel and tourism publication schedule:

  • monthly estimates for the current reference year will usually be revised and statistically benchmarked across the quarter, following the publication of the quarterly estimates which that month falls within

  • monthly and quarterly estimates for the current reference year will be revised in the survey year’s annual data release (Travel trends)

  • monthly estimates for the full calendar year will be statistically benchmarked as part of the annual data processing and the monthly estimates for the year will then be replaced in the monthly release, with the benchmarked estimate following publication of the annual 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 our guide to statistical revisions.

Seasonally adjusted figures are no longer shown in the main figures in the publication, but continue to be presented in the tables.

The estimates produced from the IPS are subject to sampling errors that occur because not every traveller to and 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 lower its sampling error. The survey sample size is approximately 20,000 per month. However, as the intensity of the sampling varies at each port, figures of a similar magnitude will not necessarily have the same percentage sampling error.

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 plus or minus 1.96 multiplied by the standard error.

Confidence intervals for quarterly and annual estimates are provided in our relevant overseas travel and tourism publications.

One indication of the reliability of the main indicators in this release can be obtained by monitoring the size of revisions. Table 4 records the size and pattern of revisions to the quarterly IPS data that have occurred over the last five years to the following main 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)

  • expenditure abroad by UK residents (GMBB)

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 report. The most up-to-date and accurate estimates for all published months can be found in the latest edition of the Overseas travel and tourism monthly statistical bulletin.

Note that, although data from the IPS feed into the calculation of migration statistics, the overseas travel and tourism publications do not provide any information relating to international migration.

Other analyses

For general questions about the IPS and requests for user-requested data analysis (a service governed by our income and charging policy), please get in touch using the contact details accompanying this release.

Back to table of contents

Contact details for this Statistical bulletin

Giles Horsfield
socialsurveys@ons.gsi.gov.uk
Telephone: +44 (0)1633 455731