UK Tourism Statistics 2023

We’ve put together some of the latest UK tourism statistics using recent data and reports including market size, the number of tourists visiting the UK, and the most popular tourist attractions to visit.

Key Statistics

  • 31.2 million people visited the UK from overseas in 2022, a 388.7% increase from 2021 as a result of travel restrictions being lifted after COVID-19.
  • The UK’s travel and tourism industry is worth an estimated £31.38 billion ($39.14 billion USD) and is expected to reach £33.41 billion ($41.67 billion USD) by 2027.
  • Overseas visitors spent £26.5 billion in the UK in 2022, climbing back up to pre-pandemic levels after dropping significantly in 2020 and 2021.
  • London is the most-visited city in the UK with 16.1 million overseas visitors in 2022, followed by Edinburgh with 1.8 million visitors.
  • The most-visited attraction in the UK is the Crown Estate at Windsor Great Park with 5.6 million visitors in 2022.
  • Visitors from China spend the most on average in the UK with £8,779 per visit, which is approximately 10 times the average amount spent by all visitors from around the world.
  • Visitors to the UK from Poland spend the least on average at £321 per visit.
  • Spain is the most-visited country by UK residents, with 15.6 million visits of at least one night, followed by France with 7.4 million visits.
  • 46% of British travellers say their budget is £200 or less for a trip in the UK, with 76% saying they will prioritise value for money when booking a holiday.

UK tourism market size

Revenue in the UK’s travel and tourism industry is estimated at £31.38 billion in 2023 and is predicted to reach £33.41 billion by 2027 with a CAGR of 1.58% between 2023 and 2027. [1]

How many people work in tourism in the UK?

The latest figures show that 3.3 million people work in the tourism industry in the UK, and this is expected to grow to 3.8 million by 2025.[2]

How many tourists visit the UK each year?

In 2022, 31.2 million people visited the UK from overseas, a 388.7% increase from 2021 but visitor numbers had not yet fully recovered to 2019 levels.

The number of overseas visitors to the UK remained fairly consistent in the years prior to 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic led to travel restrictions. There were 40.8 million international visitors in 2019, and this dropped by 279.2% to 11.1 million in 2020.

Number of overseas visitors
YearNumber of visitors (thousands)Percentage change from the previous year

Sources [3] [4]

Overseas visitors spending in the UK

Visitor spending in the UK also remained consistent in the years between 2017 and 2019, with overseas visitors spending £28.4 billion in the UK in 2019. This figure dropped to £6.2 billion in 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and dropped further to £5.6 billion in 2021.

The latest figures show visitor spending has roughly returned to pre-pandemic levels, with overseas visitors spending £26.5 billion in 2022.

Overseas visitor spending in the UK
YearVisitor spending (Millions £)Percentage change from the previous year

Sources [4][5]

Average spend per visit by country

The average amount someone spends on a trip to the UK varies depending on which country the visitor travels from. The average amount spent on a trip to the UK across visitors from all countries is £875. Visitors from China spent the most on average with £8,779 per visit (roughly 10 times the amount spent on average by all visitors). This was followed by visitors from the Middle East (not including UAE) with an average of £3,754 per visit.

Visitors who spent the least on average when visiting the UK were from Poland (£321) and Hungary (£364).

Data from 2020 was not available due to the COVID-19 pandemic.Source [6]

Number of nights spent in the UK

The number of nights spent in the UK by overseas visitors decreased slightly from 312.6 million in 2017 to 298.6 million in 2019, a 7.3% decrease in this period.

Unsurprisingly, like the number of visitors and the average spend, the number of nights spent in the UK by international visitors was also affected by COVID-19. Figures for 2021 show that overseas visitors spent 93.5 million nights in the UK, a 70% decrease compared to 2019.

Nights spent in the UK by overseas visitors
YearNumber of nights (thousands)
Data for 2020 was not available due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sources [3] 

Most-visited towns and cities in the UK

London is consistently the most-visited city in the UK, with 16.1 million overnight visitors from overseas in 2022. The second most visited city is Edinburgh with 1.8 million visitors, then Manchester with 1.2 million, followed by Birmingham with 803,000.

Source [4]

Most-visited UK tourist attractions

You’ll find a number of popular tourist attractions across the UK, from museums and art galleries to parks and beaches; let’s take a look at the most-visited attractions in the UK.

The most popular attraction in the UK in 2022 was the Crown Estate at Windsor Great Park which attracted 5.6 million visitors. Coming second on the list was the National History Museum with 4.6 million visitors, followed by the British Museum with 4 million visitors.

Source [7]

Outbound tourism from the UK

Outbound tourism statistics from the ONS show that UK residents mostly visit countries in Europe, with 51.9 million visits to European countries in 2022. This means that visits to Europe make up 79.5% of outbound travel by people living in the UK. [8]

Most-visited countries by UK residents

The most popular country for UK residents to visit in 2022 was Spain, with 15.6 million visits of at least one night. This was followed by France with 7.4 million visits, and Italy with 3.9 million visits.

Source [4]

UK domestic tourism statistics

Holidaying in the UK has become a popular pastime for British people, with staycations offering a number of benefits compared to travelling abroad. Let’s take a look at some of the latest domestic tourism statistics for the UK.

  • In 2021, there were 118.9 million overnight trips taken in Great Britain by British residents. Of these trips, England was the most popular destination with an 84% share of the trips (100 million trips). Scotland was the second most popular destination with an 11% share of the trips (13 million trips). Wales was the third most popular destination with a 5% share of the trips (6 million trips).
  • The average length of stay for a domestic overnight trip in Great Britain was 3.5 nights.
  • The total expenditure on domestic tourism in Great Britain in 2021 was £27.2 billion.
  • Of this expenditure, £22.2 billion was spent in England, £2.8 billion was spent in Scotland, and £2.2 billion was spent in Wales.

Sources [9] [10]

Why do people choose a staycation in the UK?

  • The desire for budget-friendly holidays is on the rise, with 46% of people saying their budget for a staycation is £200 per person or less, and 75% say they will prioritise value for money when looking to book a holiday.
  • Holidaymakers want to explore the outdoors – 44% of people said they would like to see more national parks in the UK on their next holiday.
  • People want to take a trip with their pets, with 40% of UK travellers saying they will look for pet-friendly accommodation for a UK staycation.
  • Scotland is becoming a popular destination for British travellers with 40% of respondents saying Scotland is top of their list for a UK holiday. [11]

Where do British people stay on holiday?

We looked at the types of accommodation British people choose to stay in when they go on holiday, either abroad or in the UK.

The most popular accommodation was a hotel, with 62% of people saying they had stayed at a hotel while on holiday in the past three years. This was followed by staying with family or friends (26%), and staying at a bed and breakfast (23%). 

Source [12]

London tourism statistics

According to the Greater London Authority, there were 11.2 million international visits to London in 2022. This is an increase of 260% from 2021 when there were 3.5 million international visits to London. The increase in tourism is due to a number of factors, including the easing of travel restrictions after COVID-19, the strong pound, and London continuing to be a popular destination for tourists.[13]

Total visits to London

In 2021, there were 7.8 million visits to London from national and international tourists, with a total spend of £7.56 million. This was a 64% decrease in spending compared to the pre-pandemic figure of £2.1 billion in 2019.

Visitors2019 (pre-Covid)20202021
Number of visits21 million4.6 million7.8 million
Total visitor spend£2.1 billion£409 million£756 million
Number of overnight stays1.3 million0.3 million0.6 million
Number of day visits19.7 million4.3 million7.2 million
Number of visits to City attractions7.44 million1.56 million1.54 million
Source [14]

The two most-visited attractions in London also fall in the top three most visited tourist sites in the UK, the Natural History Museum and the British Museum. Third on the list is the Tate Modern Gallery with 3.8 million visitors, and next is the Southbank Centre which received 2.9 million visitors in 2022.

Source [7]

More London tourism facts

  • One in seven jobs in London is related to the travel and tourism industry, and this sector makes up 12% of London’s GDP.
  • Visiting London is the third biggest reason people say they come to the UK, and the city accounted for 53% of international visits to the UK in 2019.
  • 15% of people who visit London from overseas come as part of a longer trip, including other areas in the UK.[15]

















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By Giacomo Piva

Giacomo Piva, CMO and Co-founder at Radical Storage
Giacomo Piva has worked in the travel industry since 2008 across multiple niches including tourist transportation, luxury travel, and ecotourism. He now focuses on growing the global luggage network, Radical Storage, which is currently available in over 500 cities, in the likes of London, Paris, New York, and Rio de Janeiro.
Giacomo has a bachelor's degree in Communication Science and an in-depth experience across travel marketing, especially in improving a brand’s digital presence within the industry.