LONDON, Dec. 19 (Xinhua) -- The number of tourists heading to Britain from China for the festive period is 44 percent higher than the Christmas and New Year holiday of last year, figures released on Wednesday by official agency VisitBritain revealed.
The agency said a rise in overseas visitors during Christmas and into the New Year is expected with forward flight bookings to Britain overall showing a rise of 9 percent between December 23, 2018 and January 5, 2019, compared to the same period last year.
As well as China, forward bookings have also shown strong double-digit increases from the Middle East and the United States, up 59 percent and 27 percent respectively.
The increase in bookings from some of Britain's most valuable long-haul visitor markets echoes a longer-term trend, said VisitBritian.
A spokeswoman for VisitBritain said: "Bookings from China, the world's most valuable outbound visitor market, are up 25 percent for December 2018 to May 2019. China moved into the UK's top 10 most valuable inbound visitor markets last year with visits reaching a record 337,000, up 29 percent on 2016..."
VisitBritain director Patricia Yates said: "Tourism is one of the UK's most valuable export industries and needs no trade deals to attract overseas investment. It is also a fiercely competitive global industry and people have a lot of choice. We want the UK to be the number one destination for global travellers so it is great to see forward bookings looking strong in the coming weeks and months from some of our most valuable long-haul visitor markets."
Tourism Minister Michael Ellis said: "The UK is one of the world's must-visit destinations and the increase in forward bookings reflects the strength of our tourism sector. We are committed to supporting this important industry and are progressing negotiations for a Tourism Sector Deal to drive long-term economic growth and investment in accommodation and attractions across the country."