Tourists visiting the UK spent £21.7 billion here in 2014

Visitors from other countries shelled out a combined £21.7 billion when they came to the UK in 2014, according to Office for National Statistics (ONS) International Passenger Survey data. This record spend was three per cent higher than that seen in 2013.

Compared to 2013, close to two million more inbound visits were made in 2014, leaving the overall figure at 34.8 million – another record.

The figures suggest that 13.7 million of these visits were for holidays, eight per cent up year-on-year, and yet another record figure. Meanwhile, 8.4 million visits were for business, five per cent up on 2014 and higher than seen since 2007.

Looking at specific parts of the world, four per cent more visits were made from North America year-on-year, rising to a total of 3.7 million.

Visits from the EU15 countries were seven per cent up, to a previously unseen level.

"Inbound tourism is increasing year-after-year, with Britain now achieving its second consecutive annual record, with further growth forecast for 2015," commented VisitBritain chief executive Sally Balcombe, in the wake of the figures.

"The marketplace for global tourism is getting tougher, but the government’s GREAT campaign and VisitBritain’s successful global marketing activity has meant that tourism is increasingly becoming an essential part of the wider success of our economy."

The numbers will probably be welcomed by businesses that benefit from tourism, such as hotels, restaurants and other hospitality jobs providers.

Helen Grant, minister for tourism, has said that she plans to carry on working hard with the tourism industry to encourage visits to all areas of Britain from tourists, and help "local growth and jobs".