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Overseas Visitors

Volume 498: debated on Wednesday 28 October 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what effect his Department estimates the reduction in VisitBritain's budget will have on international visitor numbers to the UK in 2010. (293122)

VisitBritain's budget was set in 2007, in the context of expected efficiencies through increased and better use of technology, changing priorities with new and emerging markets, internal restructuring and more focused marketing. The Department does not therefore believe there has been a direct impact from this on international visitor numbers. Visitor numbers have, however, been affected by the global downturn as they have in other countries.

The United Nations World Tourism Organisation estimates that total global arrivals will decline by between 4 and 6 per cent. in 2009, and VisitBritain has forecast that the number of international visitors to the UK could decline by up to 5 per cent. in 2009. In the first eight months of 2009, 9 per cent. fewer overseas visitors came to the UK compared to the same period in 2008. However, overseas visitors' spend over this period is only 1 per cent. lower than in 2009.

VisitBritain invested £3.5 million in a ‘Value for Money Campaign’ during the spring and summer of 2009 to encourage more inward bound tourism. The campaign emphasised favourable currency exchange rates and the very high quality of the tourism offer in this country.