Australia’s value to the UK visitor economy now the highest on record

Aerial view of London and the Tower Bridge, England, United Kingdom
Edited by Travel Weekly

    A record number of Australians are visiting Britain and spending more than ever before, according to the latest statistics from Britain’s National Tourist Agency, VisitBritain.

    In 2023, Australia’s value to the visitor economy was the highest on record. Visitors from Australia spent a record-breaking £1.6 billion ($3.07 million) on their trips to the UK in 2023, exceeding 2019 levels by +36 per cent and up +43 per cent over 2022, according to data released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

    The continued surge in growth from Australia has cemented its position as Britain’s fourth most valuable source market for the second consecutive year, up from fifth place in 2019 and behind only the US, Germany and France.

    A Grenadier Guard and Sentry outside of Buckingham Palace in London.

    Australia also broke records for number of visits in 2023, with Britain welcoming 1.17 million Australian visitors, an increase of +10 per cent since 2019 and delivering a year-on-year growth of +62 per cent compared to 2022.

    Visiting friends and relatives (VFR) continues to lead in terms of volume of visits from the Australian market. In 2023, VFR represented 47 per cent of trips, whilst holidays closely followed at 42 per cent. The holiday market represented a higher spend, at 47 per cent versus VFR which delivered 40 per cent.

    Australian visitors also continue to spend more and stay longer in the UK than the average global visitor. Whilst overall spend from the Australian market is up +43 per cent on 2022, spend per visit decreased slightly to £1,367 per visit in 2023, from £1,547 in 2022. This figure is still well above the global average of £819 per visit. Average length of stay for inbound Australian travellers in 2023 is 14 nights per visit, almost double the global average of 7.7 nights.

    Shambles is probably the most famous street in York, probably better recognised as a scene in Harry Potter franchise.

    Following the record-breaking results in 2023, Australia is now fully recovered and has exceeded pre-pandemic levels for both spend and visits.

    VisitBritain’s executive vice president, The Americas, Australia, and New Zealand, Paul Gauger said: “Following Australia’s strong post COVID-recovery, it’s extremely encouraging to see Australia’s appetite for Britain continue to grow. As Britain’s fourth most valuable source market, VisitBritain continues to prioritise Australia and we look forward to rolling out our global film and TV campaign in the market later this year”.

    Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament and Westminster in general are big attractions for Aussies. (iStock/Maridav)

    VisitBritain’s country manager for Australia and New Zealand, Maria Sykes said: “We’re thrilled to see these unprecedented results from Australia for both spend and visits. Australia’s love affair of Britain shows no signs of waning, and we look forward to continuing to work closely with our dedicated travel trade partners, seeking to convert strong demand for Britain into bookings and inspiring more Aussie visitors to stay longer and explore more of Britain.”

    Overall, Britain continues to build back strongly from the pandemic. In 2023, the UK welcomed 38 million inbound visits. Visits were below pre-pandemic levels (2019) by 7 per cent, however up +21 per cent versus 2022.

    Inbound visitors spent a record £31.1 billion pounds during 2023, up +9 per cent versus 2019 and up +17 per cent versus 2022. Taking inflation into account, visitor spend was down 10 per cent versus 2019 and up 9 per cent versus 2022.

    VisitBritain’s latest forecast for 2024 projects that this year Britain will welcome 38.7 million inbound visits and £32.5 billion spend, 95 per cent and 114 per cent of the 2019 levels respectively, although spend would be 92 per cent of 2019 in real terms, when adjusting for inflation. When compared to 2023, this would represent a growth of 2 per cent in visits and 5 per cent in nominal spend (2 per cent in real spend).

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