Visits to the UK by overseas tourists increase by 5.1%

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Visits to the UK by overseas tourists increased by 5.1% last year, according to official figures.

Foreign residents made 36.1 million visits to the UK in 2015, which is the highest number since records began in 1961, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.

Earnings from the visits also reached a record high of £22.1 billion, a 1% increase compared with 2014.

The ONS figures also show that UK residents took 65.7 million trips abroad last year - a 9.4% rise on the previous 12 months.

Spending on these visits was up 9.8% to £3.5 billion.

Spain continued to be the most popular destination for Britons, accounting for almost a fifth (19.8%) of all visits abroad, at 13 million.

Figures for the first three months of 2016 show a 6% rise in visits by overseas tourists compared with the same period in 2015, reaching 7.36 million.

VisitBritain director Patricia Yates said: "These best-ever first quarter figures are a tangible demonstration of the growing importance of inbound tourism to the UK economy, as we continue to showcase globally why our nations and regions should top the list as must-see destinations."