Overseas residents made 7.7 million visits to the UK in Quarter 1 (Jan to Mar) 2023; this was much higher than the 3.7 million visits that were made in Quarter 1 2022.
Overseas residents spent £5.6 billion on their visits to the UK in Quarter 1 2023, an increase of £2.8 billion compared with visits in Quarter 1 2022.
UK residents made 15.3 million visits abroad in Quarter 1 2023; this compares with 9.6 million visits in Quarter 1 2022.
UK residents spent £12.7 billion on their visits abroad in Quarter 1 2023; this was £5 billion more than they spent in Quarter 1 2022.
Holidays were the most popular reason for UK residents to travel abroad in Quarter 1 2023; for overseas residents, the most common reason to travel was to visit friends or relatives.
Overseas residents made a total of 7.7 million visits to the UK during Quarter 1 (Jan to Mar) 2023. This was more than twice the number of visits made for the same period in 2022 (3.7 million visits). This increase was to be expected as restrictions on international travel were lifted.
The number of visits in 2023 is close to pre-coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic levels, where in 2019, 8.3 million visits were made to the UK by overseas residents in Quarter 1. This is a decrease of around 8% between Quarter 1 2019 and Quarter 1 2023.
Visiting friends or relatives was the most popular reason for overseas residents to visit the UK, with an increase of 64% from Quarter 1 2022 (1.7 million visits) to Quarter 1 2023 (2.9 million visits). Holidays were the next most common reason for visiting the UK, with an increase from 944,000 in Quarter 1 2022 to 2.8 million visits in Quarter 1 2023. Business trips increased from 802,000 to 1.4 million during Quarter 1 2022 to Quarter 1 2023.
While visits are close to pre-coronavirus pandemic levels, spending is higher in Quarter 1 2023 than in the first quarter of 2019. In Quarter 1 2023, estimated spending in the UK by overseas visitors was £5.6 billion, which was an increase of 17% from Quarter 1 2019 (£4.8 billion). This does not factor in inflation for that period.
Spending was 97% higher in Quarter 1 2023 than in Quarter 1 2022. This increase in spending was seen for all areas of the world, and the largest increase was for residents visiting from Europe. Spending by residents of Europe, in Quarter 1 2023, was almost double the amount spent in the same quarter in the previous year (£2.6 billion and £1.4 billion, respectively).
For a monthly breakdown of the Quarter 1 2023 data, please see our Overseas travel and tourism, monthly data tables.Back to table of contents
UK residents made 15.3 million visits abroad in Quarter 1 (Jan to Mar) 2023. This compares with 9.6 million visits in the same quarter in 2022. This 59% increase in visits abroad compares to a period where travel restrictions remained in the UK because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
However, visits abroad in Quarter 1 2023 were still lower than pre-coronavirus pandemic levels; down by 16% from Quarter 1 2019 (18.2 million). Disruptions at some airports across the UK, caused by staff shortages and the rising cost of living, could factor into this.
The largest number of visits abroad were made to Europe (10.9 million). This was an increase of 54% from the same quarter in 2022, when 7.1 million visits were made.
Holidays were the most common reason for UK residents' visits abroad in Quarter 1 2023, accounting for 56% of all visits (at 8.6 million). The second most popular reason for travelling abroad was to visit friends or family, 4.9 million visits. Business trips also increased between Quarter 1 2022 and Quarter 1 2023, from 661,000 to 1.4 million.
UK residents spent £12.7 billion during visits abroad in Quarter 1 2023. This was an increase of £5 billion when compared with the same period in 2022. Like overseas spending in the UK, this is also higher than pre-coronavirus pandemic levels. UK spending abroad in Quarter 1 2023 was around 11% higher than in the same quarter in 2019 (where spending was £11.5 billion).
For a monthly breakdown of the Quarter 1 2023 data, see our Overseas travel and tourism, monthly datasets.Back to table of contents
Estimates of overseas residents' visits and spending in the UK
Dataset | Released on 20 July 2023
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 20 July 2023
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
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. For more information on confidence levels and 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 20 July 2023, ONS website, statistical bulletin, Overseas travel and tourism, provisional: January to March 2023.
Contact details for this Statistical bulletin
Telephone: +44 1329 444661