VisitBritain has published its inbound tourism forecast for 2024, with an increase in both the number of visits and spend expected compared to 2023.

A total of 39.5 million visits are forecast to be made to the UK next year, up 5 per cent on the expected 37.8 million for 2023, but still 3 per cent lower than 2019 levels (and also slightly down on figures in 2017 and 2018).

International visitors are forecast to spend £34.1 billion in the UK in 2024, up 7 per cent on 2023 and a 20 per cent increase on 2019 – although when adjusted for inflation the figure stands at 96 per cent of 2019 levels.

Visitors from the United States are expected to contribute £1 in every £5 of all inbound spending, with the US market set to be worth £6.7 billion in 2024, up 28 per cent on 2019 levels even when adjusted for inflation.

Meanwhile China – the UK’s second most valuable inbound market in 2019 – is expected to contribute £1.7 billion in 2024, making it the fourth most valuable market next year.

VisitBritain is currently predicting that both the number of visits and spending by international visitors will recover to 2019 levels by early 2025.

Several UK airports including Birmingham, Heathrow, Manchester and Stansted have reported monthly traffic figures exceeding pre-Covid levels in recent months.

Birmingham airport surpasses pre-Covid passenger levels

Commenting on the news VisitBritain CEO Patricia Yates said:

“International visitors spend tens of billions of pounds in the UK with the money generated supporting local economies and jobs, so it has been great to see the double-digit growth in spending from the US as well as the overall growth forecast for next year on 2023.

“We have however seen a slow-down in the overall pace of recovery compared to the strong start seen in the first half of 2023 and we face fierce competition from our European neighbours.

“To drive spending to Britain our international campaigns will remain focused on those markets showing strong growth, including Australia and the US, and we’ll continue to compete hard in our major European markets and the valuable Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) countries.

“We also want more destinations across Britain to feel tourism’s economic benefits. Our global GREAT Britain campaigns are showcasing our vibrant cities, contemporary culture and beautiful coast and countryside, inspiring visitors to discover more of Britain, stay longer and to come now.”