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Overseas Tourists

Volume 499: debated on Monday 9 November 2009

13. How many overseas tourists visited England in each of the last three years; and if he will make a statement. (298023)

The number of overseas tourists who visited England in each of the past three years is as follows: in 2006, 27,586,288; in 2007, 27,794,425; in 2008, 27,291,584. Figures for 2009 show a downward trend in numbers, reflecting the global recession and particularly a downturn in business tourism. However, spend by those tourists is up by 2 per cent. compared to last year. In the month of July, domestic tourism increased by 20 per cent. compared with July 2008, which is the best figure we have had for quite a long time.

I am glad to say that many of those tourists from overseas are coming to this country, not least on account of the euro, and coming to the south-west, where we have a huge amount of furnished holiday lettings. The Minister will be aware that the Government have said that the furnished holiday lettings tax regime needs to change. Why does she think that it needs to change, with the European view having been taken on so quickly? Has she heard from her European counterparts about whether they wish to implement those tax changes?

I have not heard from my European counterparts, but I reassure the hon. Gentleman that I am in close discussion with Treasury colleagues on that issue.