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UK Tourism Statistics


In 2022 alone the UK welcomed over 31 million visitors following the recovery of international travel post covid. Tourism statistics in the UK have projected that these numbers are only likely to continue to rise in 2023 with an estimated 37.5 million tourists due to have visited the UK by the end of 2023.

Tourism Statistics UK

Although a service-based economy, tourism still makes up a vital component of the UK economy. In 2021, £131.5 billion was generated both directly and indirectly by Tourism in the UK. Domestic tourism is also a major component of UK tourism stats with an estimated 23.8 million overnight trips taken within Great Britain in the first quarter of 2023. As of 2022, the tourism industry in the UK employs over 3 million both directly and indirectly. According to the World Travel & Tourism Council, tourism is expected to generate 700,000 new jobs over the next decade.

The UK tourism and travel industry is currently set to be worth £250 billion by 2025

How many tourists visit the UK each year?

Statistic: Number of overseas resident visits to the United Kingdom (UK) from 2002 to 2022, with a forecast for 2023 (in millions) | Statista

As shown in this Statista report, the UK tourism industry took a major hit during the COVID-19 pandemic between the years of 2020 and 2021. Following 2021 we can see that there has been a gradual recovery toward pre-pandemic tourism numbers. With the official numbers for 2023 still being calculated it is possible that 2023 could be the year in which UK tourism statistics recover to a pre-pandemic level. This is great news for the UK economy, as the UK is one of the most visited countries in the world and tourism formed around 9.9% of the nation’s GDP in 2019.

Why do people visit the UK

The UK is an attractive tourist destination for many millions of holidaymakers from across the world. Whilst everyone may have different reasons for paying the UK a visit, there are some UK sites that have consistently ranked as favourites among tourists. London which is the capital of the UK is one of the most visited cities in the world with around 20 million visitors per year on average.

The British Museum in London is the most visited site in the UK. Around 7 million visitors are admitted per year.
  • London
  • Stonehenge
  • Edinburgh
  • The white cliffs of Dover
  • The Scottish Highlands
  • Oxford
  • The Roman spas of Bath

All of these are just a few of the attractions that make visitors flock to the UK every year. The UK offers a wide variety of attractions to all sorts of visitors. From the bustling city scene of London to the quiet and picturesque Cotswolds, the UK has a good balance of sites and activities for virtually all types of tourist.

It is estimated that there are over 200 million people worldwide with heritage from the British Isles, many of these being from the United States. Many of these people will travel to the UK for a visit due to family connections or shared history.

Quick UK tourism facts

Over 61 million travellers were processed at Heathrow Airport in 2002 alone.

The top five most popular UK tourist destinations are:

  • London
  • Edinburgh
  • Bath
  • Oxford
  • York

Tourists to the UK mostly come from:

The UK tourism industry is currently worth:

  • £135 billion per year

The UK tourism industry is set to recover to pre-pandemic levels by:

  • 2024

Tourist entry requirements to the UK

Visitors to the UK must meet certain requirements in order to legally enter the UK for tourism. Visitors will need to have a valid passport or travel document at the point of entry into the UK. These will need to be valid for the whole of your stay so don’t travel on a passport that is about to expire.

According to the official government webpage:

You must be able to show that:

  • you’ll leave the UK at the end of your visit
  • you’re able to support yourself and your dependants during your trip (or have funding from someone else to support you)
  • you’re able to pay for your return or onward journey (or have funding from someone else to pay for the journey)
  • you’ll not live in the UK for extended periods through frequent or successive visits, or make the UK your main home

As the UK has various agreements and relationships with other countries, you may not always require a visa for entry into the UK depending on your nationality. Depending on your nationality you’ll either:

  • have to apply for a Standard Visitor visa before you travel to the UK
  • be able to visit the UK for up to 6 months without needing a visa

If you are thinking of travelling within the UK then it helps to be prepared. Having a comprehensive travel insurance policy is your peace of mind that should something go wrong, you won’t be left out of pocket. Insure yourself against theft, damage, loss and medical costs or holiday cancellation.

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This article is intended as generic information only and is not intended to apply to anybody’s specific circumstances, demands or needs. The views expressed are not intended to provide any financial service or to give any recommendation or advice. Products and services are only mentioned for illustrative rather than promotional purposes.

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