The Office for National Statistics has reported that, despite the tumbling value of the pound against the dollar and the euro, the number of visitors to the UK has dropped off sharply.
Figures for October to December 2008 show that visitor numbers were down 12% on the same period in 2007 and 5% on the previous quarter in 2008.
American visitors represent the greatest fall with a 27 per cent year on year reduction which was largley expected because of similar consumer worries about the economy across the Atlantic discouraging foreign travel.
But the figures also showed a significant 15% drop in visitors from the emerging markets of eastern Europe which have become increasingly important for the UK in recent years. The industry had been gearing up for an influx in visitors due to the fall in the value of the pound, but the figures shows this had not happened.
A spokesperson for the national tourism agency VisitBritain said the drop in visitor numbers was “very worrying”. “Christmas is usually a busy time so we’re hoping that this is not going to be the start of a worrying trend,”
VisitBritain has called on the Government to match fund the £6.5 million it has raised for a new marketing campaign focusing on the UK’s “new affordability".
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Office of National Statisitics