March 23, 2018 / 11:13 AM / 4 months ago

Visitors to UK fall as Brexit hit to pound fades

LONDON (Reuters) - The number of people visiting Britain in December 2017 fell sharply, according to official data on Friday which showed the boost to tourism since the Brexit vote faded as the value of the pound recovered.

FILE PHOTO: Tourists stand in the snow outside Buckingham Palace, London, Britain, December 10, 2017. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls/File Photo

The Office for National Statistics said there were 2.59 million overseas visitors to Britain in December, down 11.3 percent compared with December 2016 and marking the biggest annual drop since April 2010.

Tourism was a bright spot in an otherwise lacklustre economy after the 2016 Brexit vote caused the value of the pound to plunge - instantly making Britain a much cheaper destination for visitors from abroad.

But by the end of last year sterling had recovered around 6 percent of its value against a basket of other commonly traded currencies, lessening Britain’s allure for foreign visitors.

Spending by tourists visiting Britain amounted to 1.56 billion pounds ($2.20 billion) in December - down almost 13 percent compared with the same month in 2016.

In 2017 as a whole, the number of foreign visitors to the United Kingdom rose by 3 percent while the number of British visitors going abroad rose by 2 percent.

($1 = 0.7098 pounds)

Reporting by Andy Bruce; Editing by William Schomberg

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