Visitors to UK hits August record after Brexit fall in pound

ON (Reuters) – The number of visitors to Britain hit a record high in August but fewer Britons travelled abroad, the latest sign of how the fall in the value of the pound after last year’s Brexit vote is helping Britain’s tourism industry.

The number of overseas residents coming to the country in August rose by an annual 5 percent to 3.9 million, the highest number for any August and the second highest for any month.

By contrast, the number of British residents going abroad during the month – normally the busiest of the year for holiday travel – fell by 3 percent to 8.9 million, official data showed.

The pound fell sharply after the referendum decision to leave the European Union in June 2016, pushing up inflation for British households – and making holidays abroad more expensive too – but leading to lower prices for foreign tourists.

The combination of more foreign visitors to Britain and more Britons spending the summer at home was a factor behind a pick-up in the country’s economic growth in the third quarter, Howard Archer, an economist with EY Item Club, a forecasting body.

“It is notable that there were reports that UK retail sales were boosted in August by more people taking holidays at home as well as spending by tourists,” Archer said.

In the first eight months of the year, the number of overseas visitors to Britain rose by 8 percent while Britons travelling abroad rose too, up by 3 percent, the ONS said, based on preliminary data.

Foreign visitors to Britain spent 2.8 billion pounds in the country in August, a record for any month and an increase of 3 percent from the same month last year. Spending by Britons abroad rose by 1 percent during the month to 6.2 billion pounds.

Reporting by William Schomberg, editing by David Milliken