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UK tourism enjoys bumper new year
UK tourism has enjoyed a bumper start to the year thanks to an big increase in overseas visitors as well as a sharp rise in their spending.
Foreign residents made 2.41 million visits to the UK in January 2014 - a rise of 8% on January 2013 which was a particularly snowy month.
These overseas visitors spent £1.39 billion during their January 2014 trips to the UK - a 12% increase on the January 2013 figure.
From the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the figures follow a highly-successful 2013 which saw overseas visitor spending top the £20 billion mark for the first time.
The ONS also said that UK residents made 3.62 million visits overseas in January 2014 - a 4% rise on the January 2013 total. Visits to North America grew 11% in the first month of this year.
But spending by these UK residents during their foreign trips dipped 9% to £1.89 billion in January 2014, possibly due to British holidaymakers not actually needing to fork out so much for meals and drinks due to the strengthening of the pound against many foreign currencies.
VisitBritain strategy and communications director Patricia Yates said: "After welcoming a bumper 2013, we're continuing to see substantial growth from overseas visitors, particularly those coming from our high-volume European neighbours."
She added that with a new advertising campaign under way " we are looking to continue this momentum as we build towards another record-breaking year for British tourism".