BBC News

Big rise in foreign travel by Britons, despite 2015 terror attacks

By Brian Milligan
Personal Finance reporter

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The number of trips by UK residents abroad increased by 9.4% last year, the largest rise since 1998, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

In 2015, UK residents took 65.7m foreign holidays or business trips.

That was despite a number of high profile terrorist attacks in Europe.

They included the deaths of 130 people in Paris in November, and the killing of 38 holiday-makers on a beach in Tunisia in June.

The travel industry said the figures showed the "resilience" of UK travellers.

"The 9.4% growth recorded in overseas holidays during the year is the largest annual rise in nearly twenty years, and spending on holidays exceeded pre-crisis levels for the first time since the recession," said a spokesperson for the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA).

Spain was easily the most popular country for UK residents to visit, with 13m trips there during the year. That accounted for nearly a fifth of all foreign travel by Brits.

At the same time the number of trips by foreign visitors to the UK rose by 5.1%, to a record high of 36.1m.

But while foreigners spent £22.1bn on visits to the UK, Brits spent £39bn abroad.

That spending gap of £16.9bn is the highest since 2008, and accounted for a large slice of the UK's overall balance of payments deficit of £96.2bn in 2015.

The French were the biggest visitors to the UK, with 4m trips.

Behind them were the Germans and the Americans, with 3m visits each. However American visitors spend more, so are more important to the economy.

Outside London, the cities with the highest number of visitors were Edinburgh, Manchester and Birmingham, each of which had more than a million foreign visits.

Related Topics

  • UK economy
  • Personal finance
  • Travel