Holiday at home: which UK regions do other nationalities visit?

5 minutes

The UK's tourism industry is booming, according to the latest data. Research has found that different nationalities favour certain areas, so what's the draw?

And will it inspire more Brits to opt for a ‘staycation’?

  • More than 30 million overseas tourists visited the UK last year
  • Scotland is one of the biggest draws for American visitors
  • There are more than 47 million domestic breaks taken last year

According to LV= research, many Brits aren’t aware that their travel insurance is likely to cover them in the UK, whether on a road trip or a bank holiday weekend break, as well as abroad.

The ‘staycation’ is growing in popularity. According to VisitBritain, in 2017, British residents took 100.6 million overnight trips in England, totalling 299 million nights away from home and expenditure of £19 billion,with an average trip length of three nights.

And it’s not just the locals taking advantage. The UK is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world and attracts more than 30 million overseas visitors each year.

While most flock to the capital, a city abundant with attractions from Buckingham Palace to Kew Gardens, the recent research conducted by tour operator, AC Group (@ACTOURSUK), found that different nationalities were also drawn to particular parts of the country.

‘The UK has so much to offer tourists. After noticing a growing trend amongst American visitors requesting bespoke experiences in Scotland, we decided to investigate which nationalities favoured which parts of the UK for their holidays,’ says Angela Heaton, MD of AC Group.

‘Reviewing our booking data for accommodation, activities and services in the last five years, we found some interesting trends,’ Angela added.

The data, which has been collated from tours booked over a five-year period, showed that Spanish tourists favour the Northeast, Indian travellers head for the East Midlands, while the French love nothing more than exploring Yorkshire on two wheels.

‘I love hiking and cycling around the Yorkshire Dales,’ says Owen, a French student from Brittany. ‘It's very beautiful and different to the area I grew up in. And the people are friendly too.’


Ancestry attracts Americans to Scotland

With their love of heritage and history, it's no surprise that Americans chose Scotland over anywhere else, in particular Edinburgh and Glasgow. Data from VisitBritain backs this up, revealing that international passengers to Edinburgh were most likely to be from the USA, with 305,000 visiting in 2016.

‘I think most Americans are drawn to Scotland because of ancestry,’ says Sarah from New York (@sarah_engstrand). ‘I know a few people who have romantic notions of finding a long-lost clan.

‘I was drawn to Scotland because of its history and beauty, and after four years of studying there, I’m still not over it. Whether it’s walking out of Waverley train station and seeing Edinburgh’s Old Town, or a drive through the Highlands, the country never ceases to amaze me.’ 

During August, Edinburgh hosts the world's largest arts festival – but its attractions pack a punch during the rest of the year, too. Crammed with Gothic architecture, cobbled lanes and medieval turrets, the Scottish capital has long been a pilgrimage for Harry Potter fans.

‘I love Edinburgh because the people are amazing and it's so grand, but also so quaint and easy to get around,’ says Yaya (@mydreamality) originally from Texas and author of the blog.


Do logistics affect a city's popularity?

The data in the AC Group's report showed that Liverpool has seen a spike in Chinese visitors, who are drawn by the Beatles history. However, it also attracts a loyal Irish crowd, who can easily nip across the Irish Sea on the ferry for a dose of Scouse charm. According to VisitBritain, 93,000 tourists from Ireland visited Liverpool in 2016.

The AC Group research also showed that Australians were likely to venture away from the capital when visiting from Down Under, having a penchant for the eastern cities of Cambridge and Norwich. 

‘I love the punting, it's such a British thing to do,’ says Megan (@koala1603) from Melbourne, Australia. ‘Oh, and the cute pubs – especially the Fort St George, with its views of the riverbank or a field of cows. It's perfect for a lazy afternoon.’


Britain's becoming a staycation nation 

Maybe we should be following in the footsteps of our nation's guests and explore more of our own country. The UK is overflowing with natural attractions, from the undulating hills of the Lake District to the neolithic rocks of Stonehenge, not to mention being home to some of Europe's finest museums.

Earlier this year, Rough Guides named Newcastle the number one place in the world to visit in 2018. This summer, it was host to the Great Exhibition of the North, a city-wide festival of art, design and culture.

The AC Group report showed that Japanese visitors head to the Midlands, enticed by the Bard's home of Stratford-upon-Avon and Warwick Castle.

‘My sister and I love the Cotswolds. It’s beautiful and picturesque – the typical English countryside,’ says Takayo (@takayostyle) who hails from Toyota City, Japan. ‘The Cotswolds is one of the most popular destinations for Japanese tourists. We imagine it's like the scenes from our old picture books of England.’

From Shakespeare to ancient stones, when it comes to staycations, let's take note from our overseas visitors and explore more of the beauty that lies on our doorsteps. 

Remember; even if you're not going abroad for your holiday, you should still make sure you're protected by taking out travel insurance Read more here.