In 2016 there were a record 37.3 million inbound visits to the UK, up three per cent on 2015.
Visitors spent £22.2billion, matching 2015’s record spend.
Meanwhile figures showed that in the third quarter last year – July to September – there were 81,000 inbound visits to the North West.
This was a six per cent increase on 2015 figures for this period and the highest since records began in 1961.
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Overseas visitors spent £383million during the same third quarter period in the North West, up one per cent on the same period in 2015.
The UK figures from Visit Britain show strong growth in 2016 from North America, Canada and the US – the latter Britain’s most valuable tourism source market – with 4.3 million visits, up seven per cent on 2015.
VisitBritain chief executive Sally Balcombe said: “The strong growth in inbound visits demonstrates British tourism’s continued ability to compete for international visitors and deliver economic growth across our nations and regions.”
She added: “We must seize the opportunity to build on this, boosting visitor spending by driving home the message of welcome and value.
“Particularly in our high spending markets such as China and the US and the valuable European market.”
Lancashire attracts over 64 million visitors a year and is the third largest employer.
In Lancashire alone it supports over 56,000 jobs.
Marketing Lancashire chief executive Ruth Connor said today: “It is good to see that our work is contributing to the greater awareness of quality visitor experiences outside London.
“We look forward to welcoming more international visitors to Lancashire, as we build on this great legacy with new projects and partnerships as part of the Northern Powerhouse.”