Foreign visits to UK down in August despite Olympics

The number of visits to the UK by overseas residents was 5% lower in August, despite London hosting this year’s Olympic Games, figures showed today.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) reported that there were around 3.0 million visits to the UK in August, down 5% compared to the same month in 2011.

Overall, however, these foreign visitors spent more money than their counterparts last year.

The amount of money spent was 9% higher than in the same period a year ago, at nearly GBP2.4bn. This includes any money spent on the purchase of Olympics tickets.

Visitors to the Games spent almost twice as much money, shelling out GBP1,290 per person on average, against GBP650 spent by other overseas visitors.

The majority of visits for the Olympic Games from overseas were made by European residents, while an equal proportion came from North America and other countries around the world.

Looking specifically at all visits made to the UK this summer for the sporting spectacle, there were an estimated 590,000 completed visits to the UK by overseas residents in July and August that were either specifically for the 2012 Olympics or Paralympics – by those participating, working or watching the Games – or primarily for another reason but involving attendance at a ticketed event.

The ONS noted that the decrease in total visit numbers in August followed similar falls in June and July, when visits to the UK were around 7% lower than in 2011 and spending on those visits was in line with the previous year. Across the whole of the year to date, the number of visits from overseas residents is unchanged in percentage terms from 2011, while spending is 3% higher.

UK residents made slightly fewer trips abroad in August 2012 compared to a year earlier, with visits abroad by Britons down 1% to a total of 7.3 million. Expenditure on these visits rose 6% from 2011, amounting to more than GBP4.5bn.