UK Visit and Visitor Numbers Fall

According to the UK’s Office for National Statistics, the number of people visiting the UK fell in 2008 for the first time in seven years – down 2.7 percent to 31.9 million visits. The last time that the UK saw a decline in the number of visits was 2001. The final quarter of the year saw the most marked change with visits down 13 percent.

The most notable decline in visitor numbers came from the US where visits fell by 17 percent to 3 million.

The top UK visited towns, in order of popularity, were London, Edinburgh, Manchester, Birmingham and Glasgow, proving that property investors would do well to look in these five major cities if they wish to invest in UK property.

Matching the decline in visits to the UK, UK residents also made fewer visits abroad in 2008 – down 0.6 percent to 69 million visits. Again, the final quarter of the year saw the most marked change with visits down 9 percent. Spain and France remain two of the most popular countries for Brits to visit, although slightly more unusual countries such as Romania, Mexico, Egypt and Slovakia are starting to prove a lot more popular.

John Luke Busby, director, London-based French mortgage specialist, Athena Mortgages, comments, “Once again, France and Spain remain the most popular destinations for Brits. But we aren’t just crossing the channel for our holidays. There has been a noticeable increase, recently, in the number of people enquiring about buying, or actually buying, French property.

“The main reasons for this are exceptionally competitive mortgage finance, the support being given to the French property market by the Sarkozy-led tax incentives and, closer to home, continued nerves surrounding the UK property market.”

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