Latest data from the government’s Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that the UK welcomed 16.4 million overseas visitors during the first half of this year, eight per cent up on January-June 2013, and the highest-ever first-half total.
Some were travelling on business, some were visiting friends and relatives, but the numbers travelling on holiday – 1.4 million in June alone – were 12 per cent up on last year.
Most of our visitors, unsurprisingly, come from Europe, but ONS number-crunchers say that the first half of this year saw a huge 20 per cent increase in arrivals from countries outside the European Union.
It’s a well-known fact that we Brits are notoriously bad at foreign languages but, given the earnings potential, it’s high time we all became much more foreigner-friendly. If you don’t have a menu in Mandarin, OR don’t know how to advertise in Arabic, maybe now’s the time to start speaking in tongues.
It’s not as if there aren’t enough language students about to lend a helping hand.