The number of visitors to the UK increased slightly in September after modest declines in August, according to new figures from tourism agency VisitBritain. Year-on-year visitor numbers were up 1% in September, with holiday trips up 5% to 0.97m out of 2.53m arrivals in that month. In contrast, visitors in August were down 2% on 2010 (3.2m). Total visits for the year so far are 3% above 2010 levels. Visitor spending in September, at £1.5bn, was up 7% on the same month last year. However, this partly reflects price inflation and the rising costs faced by businesses. Sandie Dawe, chief executive of VisitBritain, said: “Today’s figures are an encouraging sign for Britain’s tourism sector, which can continue to grow over the next few years and which will be strengthened by the image boost that hosting next year’s Olympic Games will bring.” Meanwhile, the number of overnight holiday trips to Britain increased 4% in the first seven months of 2011. Expenditure by holidaymakers increased 13%. In England, the number of overnight holiday trips was up 5%, with spending up 13%. This represents 26.3m trips in the period. Figures for England also show an uplift in business trips, with 10% more visits made over the seven months against the same period in 2010. Visits to friends and relatives were up 2%. The Business Confidence Monitor, a survey of accommodation businesses, found that 79% were either “very satisfied” or “quite satisfied” with their performance in the period. In addition, 81% were “confident” or “very confident” about trading in the autumn.