Britain ready to welcome record number of tourists in 2018

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LONDON: Overseas visits to the UK are set to pass 40 million for the first time in 2018, according to forecasts from national tourism agency VisitBritain, media reports said here Tuesday.

A double-digit fall in the pound against the euro and the dollar is helping drive visits and allow tourism to buck predictions of a post-referendum slowdown in the British economy.

The agency said 2017 was a record year for inbound tourism to the UK, with 39.9 million visits. Next year, it is predicting that will reach 41.7 million, a 4.4 percent rise on this year.

Spending by overseas visitors to the UK is forecast to reach 26.9 billion pounds (35.9 billion dollars) in 2018, up 6.8 percent compared with 2017, which is expected to total 25.1 billion pounds (33.5 billion dollars) by year end.

Travellers predominately from Europe, the U.S. and China have been arriving in ever increasing numbers to buy luxury designer brands.

Meanwhile, other destinations linked to popular books, films and TV programs are expected to continue to pull in the crowds, which include the Northern Ireland locations used in Game of Thrones. During 2017, events linked to the 20th anniversary of the first Harry Potter book and the 200th anniversary of the death of Jane Austen proved popular.

Patricia Yates, VisitBritain’s director, said: “We have seen good growth this year from the U.S. and China, and are developing new products that make it easier for overseas visitors to book and explore all of Britain.”

The UK was ranked third for tourism globally in the 2017 Anholt-GfK Nation Brands Index (NBI) published last month, equalling its highest rank ever and up two places from last year.

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