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UK visits by overseas tourists down 97% on pre-Covid levels

Overseas residents made just 277,000 visits by air to the UK between April and June, new figures show.

That is a 97% decline on pre-pandemic levels, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.

Visits to UK-based friends and relatives decreased by 93%, while business trips were down 97%.

Just 13,000 holiday visits were recorded, representing a decline of more than 99%.

Travel and tourism firms blamed coronavirus restrictions for limiting demand.

The amount of money spent by overseas residents who arrived in the UK by air between April and June was £386 million, down 94% compared with the same period in 2019.

During the same quarter, UK residents made one million visits abroad by air, representing a decrease of 96% on pre-pandemic levels.

Visits to friends or relatives were the most common reason for travelling, accounting for 60% of all trips.

UK residents spent £1.122 billion on foreign trips by air in the second quarter of the year, a drop of 93% from the total during the same period two years ago.

The ban on overseas leisure travel was lifted on May 17, but people arriving in the UK were required to self-isolate unless they were travelling from a location on the green list.

Portugal was the only major viable tourist destination on the list, and even it was removed on June 8.

The Government advised people not to make non-essential trips to locations on its amber list, which covered popular destinations such as Spain, France, Italy and Greece.

A relaxation of quarantine and testing requirements for fully vaccinated travellers has led to a boost in travel in recent weeks but was too late for the vital summer holiday season.

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