hospitalitytoday.com | 25 “Tourism is a shining star in an uncertain world. As our fourth biggest service export, and one of our fastest growing sectors, tourism’s importance as a key economic driver and job creator is clear. While the talk is of trade deals with new markets, tourism is already leading the way, competing strongly in our most valuable source markets such as the US and in markets that are crucial for our future including China,” he said. Domestic visitors spent an additional £97.2 million in England as a result of VisitEngland’s 2015 ‘Holidays at Home are GREAT’ campaign. The figures come on the back of a bounce from inbound tourism to the UK in July with more visits than ever before, up 2% to 3.8 million compared to the same month last year, with spend up 4% to £2.5 billion. It continues a long-term pattern of growth which last year saw a record 36.1 million inbound visits to Britain and spend of £22.1 billion. Domestic visitors also spent more in England last year than ever before, with £19.6 billion spent by Brits on overnight trips, up 8% on 2014. British Tourist Authority Chairman Christopher Rodrigues (right) said that VisitBritain/VisitEngland was in “pole position” to build on this growth and fulfil its Government remit of growing the value of inbound tourism to the nations and regions, and developing England’s tourism product through the Discover England Fund. Last year visitors from the US, Britain’s most valuable source market, spent £3 billion in Britain for the first time and visits from China, the world’s largest outbound market, increased by 46%, with spend up 18%. This moved China into Britain’s top 10 most valuable markets, while flight booking data from ForwardKeys showed that bookings from China to the UK were up 24% for October to December. Rodrigues said “Once again we have shown our ability to build great partnerships, leveraging private sector money to amplify our message and convert the aspiration to travel into bookings. We have received £12.7 million cash and in-kind for our international marketing, working with commercial partners including Expedia, Hainan Airlines, STA Travel and British Airways and a further £2 million in-kind from trade partners for Holidays at Home are GREAT”.