By Jonathan Davies

The amount of money spent in the UK by tourists has fallen for the first time in five years, according to new figures.

Much of the talk has been about the problems caused to the Russian economy by the economic sanctions imposed by the West as a result of the ongoing conflict in eastern Ukraine.

At the end of July, the Foreign Secretary Phillip Hammond, said the economic sanctions would 'hurt' the UK as well.

And it appears Mr Hammond's prediction is coming to fruition. The total amount spent by tourists was is down 4%, led by a 20% drop in spending by Russian tourists.

The economic sanctions, the strength of the pound and the weakness of the Russian rouble has made it harder for Russian tourists to spend as much money.

And its not just the Russians who have been affected by political unrest. The amount spent Thai tourists fell even more, by 27%.

The strength of the pound has also impacted on other nations. American spending fell 9%, while Saudis spent 7% less and Nigerians 5%.

The UK had benefited from strong spending from rich international tourists. But that time could be at an end, according to Global Blue, which monitors tax-free international spending.

Gordon Clark, UK country manager of Global Blue, said: “Our figures show that political unrest and weakened home currencies are leaving shoppers from our top spending nations in a position where they are still spending more per transaction than before but are making less purchases than they would have made in the past.

“More than ever now British retailers and hotels need to review their international marketing plans, product range and staff training to ensure they still continue to secure this crucial international spend.”

China accounts for roughly 23% of all money spent by tourists in the UK. And that market continued to grow, with spending up by 20% last year, although that figure was down from 50% in the previous year.

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