By Emily Goddard

london 2012 crowds 180213February 22 - Inbound tourism contributed a record £19 billion ($29 billion/€22 billion) in spend, a four per cent rise on 2011, to Britain's economy in 2012 as people travelled to the nation to celebrate the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games and the Queen's Diamond Jubilee.

Visits were also up with over 31 million international tourists enjoying a trip across Britain, representing a one per cent rise on 2011 and the best year since 2008, figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) confirmed.

The biggest year in inbound history was anchored by 12 million holiday visits and good growth of business and Visiting Friends and Relatives (VFR) tourism, with 2012 witnessing a record number of visits from "rest of the world" markets, at 4.9 million, and a record 2.2 million visits from non-EU markets.

December proved to be a particularly strong month for inbound tourism, representing a 12 per cent increase on visits over the previous December and 15 per cent increase in spend.

"Inbound tourism has shown it can continue to deliver growth to the UK economy and Britain has managed to avoid the threatened displacement in the year of the Games," Patricia Yates, director of strategy and communications at VisitBritain, said.

"Our tourism strategy was clearly to use the showcasing of the Games and turn the millions who watched coverage of Britain into visitors in the months and years ahead.

"We have made an excellent start and will continue our work promoting Britain as a great place to visit to deliver further revenue and jobs in the United Kingdom through 2013."

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