Tourists defy UK’s rainy August


The lack of sunshine did not put off summer holidays to Britain as 40,000 more tourists headed to the UK in August compared to last year.

The 3.39m visitors helped boost the total trips so far this year by 2%, according to official statistics.

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The National tourism agency VisitBritain welcomed this as an “absolutely positive sign.”

Tourists from emerging markets in Asia and Eastern Europe made up for fewer North American visitors.

American cruises

The government-funded agency VisitBritain welcomed the news following concerns that year-on-year number of visitors would not increase after they stagnated in 2007 from the previous year.

However, the number of visits from Canadians and North Americans, down seven per cent so far this year, fell by 20% in August alone.

Elliot Frisby, from VisitBritain, said he believed they shunned the UK because they now favour luxury cruises and visits to Asia instead of the food, drink and culture Britain has to offer.

He added that many had also been put off by the the dollar-to-pound exchange rate.

He told BBC News: “The greatest growth is coming from newer, emerging markets like China, Russia, India, south east Asia and eastern Europe.”

The so-called group of “A12” countries is responsible for a large part of this upsurge, with 20% more visitors coming from the cluster of 12 countries this year.

They are Bulgaria, Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia.

British residents are also making more foreign trips this year.

Since January, they made more than 47.8m visits, up 2% since 2007.

UK residents have so far spent £25.4bn abroad in 2008, a rise of 6% compared to this time last year.