LONDON, May 24 (Xinhua) -- The dramatic impact of COVID-19 on the number of visitors heading to Britain was revealed for the first time in a study published on Monday by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the UK's largest independent producer of official statistics.
During 2020 overseas residents spent 6.2 billion pounds (8.76 billion US dollars) on their visits to the UK, 78 percent less than in 2019, ONS said.
Meanwhile, UK residents made 23.8 million visits abroad in 2020, 74 percent less than the previous year and they spent 13.8 billion pounds on visits abroad in 2020, 78 percent less than in 2019.
ONS said travel and tourism statistics are usually based on the results of the International Passenger Survey (IPS), but the survey was suspended in March 2020 due to the pandemic.
The new figures published by ONS for April to December 2020 have been based on administrative sources and modelling by statisticians. The figures were added to data collected in the three months before the pandemic.
According to ONS, visits by North American residents decreased by 78 percent to 1.2 million, visits by European residents were down by 71 percent to 8 million and visits by residents of "other countries" (countries outside of Europe and North America) decreased by 76 percent to 1.9 million. (1 British pound = 1.42 US dollars)