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Cheap pound boosts overseas tourism

Spending by overseas visitors in the UK was 20 per cent higher in April compared with last year, as tourists took advantage of the cheaper pound since the Brexit vote.

Overseas tourists made 3.7m visits to the UK in the month, a 19 per cent rise on April 2016. They spent £2bn during their stay — a 20 per cent rise.

In contrast, spending by British travellers abroad fell 1 per cent to £3.5bn.

VisitBritain, the UK tourist board, said this brought the number of inbound visits this year to a record 11.8m and total visitor spending to £6.2bn, also a record.

Patricia Yates, VisitBritain’s director, said it was promoting the UK as a good value destination “particularly in our high-spending markets — China and the US and the valuable European market”.

There have been nearly eight times as many visits from the EU than from countries a long-haul flight away such as the US — or 8.3m to 1m — according to VisitBritain.

However, long-haul visits have grown fastest: they are up 16 per cent year-on-year, while EU visits rose 7 per cent.

According to ForwardKeys, a travel data company, flight bookings for the summer months are 12 per cent ahead of this time last year.

But there are signs elsewhere that the Westminster and Borough Market terror attacks in London have deterred visitors.

Merlin Entertainments, which owns London tourist attractions including Madame Tussauds and the London Eye, said this month that it had been “adversely affected” by the attacks. The company said it was “cautious” about foreign visitor trends over the coming months.

Holidaymakers in Polperro, Cornwall. Many visitors are opting for locations where the security threat is perceived to be lower © Alamy

Bernard Donoghue, director of the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions, said that rather than cancelling trips to Britain, overseas visitors would often “displace” from London to other cities, such as Bath or Canterbury, where the security threat is perceived to be lower.

“Last year we saw a greater regional spread of overseas visitors around the country,” said Mr Donoghue, citing visitor numbers collected from the organisation’s members. “We’ve seen that continued this year as well.”