Last week we reported that that VisitBritain is in consultation over aims to increase inbound UK travel up to 40 million visitors by 2020. Since then, tourism bosses are reported to be urging the Government to relax tourist visas after a 5% drop in UK visitors in August.

Figures for UK travel and tourism during August have just been released by the Office for National Statistics. Visitor spend was up 9% but compared to 2011, arrivals were down by 5%, leaving the total visits for the year to date at the same level as last year.

The Olympic and Paralympic Games were a huge draw, as 590,000 overseas visitors indicated that they had come to attend ticked events, or were participating or working at the Games themselves. Visitors spent an average of £1,290 (total £760 million), which is almost double the usual amount they would normally be expected to spend.

Sandie Dawe, chief executive at VisitBritain said: “The first six months of the year saw a record in terms of both the number of holiday arrivals and the amount of spend, and with August’s figures we are now at the same level as we were in 2011.

“The extraordinary exposure Britain received during the Games has provided us with an ideal platform to remind people around the world why a visit to Britain is a must, and we are working hard to deliver a strong finish to the year.”