Tourist numbers to the UK down while global figures continue to rise

A decrease in visitors coming to Britain and a fall in spending are in stark contrast to a worldwide increase in international arrivals, according to UN data

The number of people visiting the UK on holiday fell in 2018. This was contrary to predictions and bucked the global travel trend, which saw worldwide international arrivals increase 6% year on year. The figure for worldwide arrivals has reached 1.4 bn, two years earlier than expected, according to the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO). In contrast, the UK saw a decline of 5.3% in overseas tourists and a 2.3% fall in spending, despite earlier suggestions that a record year in 2017 would continue into 2018.

The drop in inbound tourism to the UK has been attributed to a fall in interest among Europeans, who account for two-thirds of overseas visitors. Research by VisitBritain showed that interest in visiting the UK since the Brexit referendum fell from 76% in August 2016 to 69% in autumn 2018.

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