OVERSEAS tourists took advantage of a mild March by visiting the UK in increased numbers and spending more money during their trips.
Foreign residents made 2.41 million visits to the UK in March 2014 compared to only 2.18 million in the same month last year, which was the coldest March in the UK for 50 years.
During their March 2014 trips, these overseas visitors spent £1.34 billion - a rise on the £1.30bn figure from March 2013, the Office for National Statistics said.
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The latest figures took the number of visits by overseas residents to the UK for the first three months of this year to 6.99 million - a 10 per cent rise on the January-March 2013 total.
Their spending for the first three months of this year is up 19 per cent to £4.26bn. This follows a record year in 2013, when overseas visitor spending passed the £20bn mark for the first time.
By contrast, UK residents are making fewer visits abroad and spending less when they get there, despite a big rise in the number visiting the USA, where the pound is at a five-year high against the dollar.
Patricia Yates of VisitBritain said: "Inbound tourism to Britain set records in 2013 and that growth has continued into 2014. Since the start of the year we've seen uplift in visits and spend and the month of March continued that growth. It's particularly positive to see more people visiting from all world regions compared to the same time last year, and particularly strong growth from Europe."