Rise in Indian visitors to Britain despite rupee plunge

Archana Venkatraman

Number of visitors from India to the UK has risen by 9% in the first three quarters of 2013 despite the rupee touching nearly 100 to a pound, according to the figures released by the Office of National Statistics.

More Indians visited Britain in 2013 than the previous year despite rupee's freefall
More Indians visited Britain in 2013 than the previous year despite rupee's freefall
Image: Wikimedia Commons (Daniele Vaghini)

In the first nine months of 2013, there were about 306,000 Indian visitors to Britain, up 9% from the same period last year.

These Indian travellers spent a totsl of £349m during their stay in the UK.

Desi visitors were not deterred by the falling value of the rupee against the pound, which closed below Rs 100-level for the first time in history in August 2013, according to VisitBritain, UK’s tourist authority.

The rise was driven by more business and holiday visits from India last year. There were 11% more holiday visitors and 14% more business visitors in 2013 as compared to 2012. But there were fewer travelers falling in the “visiting friends and family (VFR)” category.

As a result, holiday visits reached their highest level for five years - 121,000 in the first three quarters of 2013 - and the money spent on these visits hit a record £62m -- 31% more than 2012. It also broke 2008’s pre-financial crisis record of £60m.  

“We are fortunate that Indians are choosing Britain once again with new records broken for both spend and visits. This is testament to Britain as an inherently attractive and good value destination with a warm welcome and huge variety of locations and experiences,” said Sandie Dawe, chief executive of VisitBritain.

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Noting the importance of Indian tourists to the British economy, VisitBritain is planning to launch a high-profile tourism campaign in Mumbai and New Delhi this week.

It is hoping to attract more than 425,000 Indian visitors by 2016 and expecting to achieve £380m worth of annual visitor spend.

The “Great Britain” marketing campaign includes a ‘Bollywood in Britain’ campaign launching later this year on the red carpet.

Indian perceptions of Britain are very positive, as shown in the latest 2013 Anholt GfK Nation Brand Index, according to VisitBritain.

The study found that Indian travelers rated Britain third out of fifty countries for historic buildings, vibrant city life and contemporary culture, second for rich cultural heritage and fifth for natural beauty and sport.

“These perceptions are reflected in the ‘dream’ activities Indians would like to do in Britain,” VisitBritain claimed.

When asked which pre-defined activities would be at the top of their wish-list on a trip to Britain, the popular choices amongst Indians were ‘Visiting Buckingham Palace’, ‘Viewing London from Shard tower’, ‘Viewing London from London Eye’ (24%), and ‘Taking the mountain train up Snowdon’.

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