The trips made by tourists to UK rose to an all-time high of 36 million in 2015, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
The figure far outweighs the previous record of 31 million, set during 2012 when London hosted the Olympic Games.
However, the number of trips made by British people abroad still completely dwarfs inward tourism, and is growing nearly twice as fast. There were 65.7 million trips abroad made by Brits in 2015, up 9.4% on 2014, whereas the number made by foreigners grew just 5.1%.
Foreign tourists spent £22.1 billion in the UK last year, whereas Brits spent £39bn abroad, resulting in a spending gap of £16.9bn - the highest it has been since 2008.
French people were the most likely to visit the UK in 2015, with around four million trips made last year. In contrast, Spain was the UK's most popular destinations at 13 million visits. Three million visits were made to the UK by US and German tourists, but Americans spent more.
A spokesperson for the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) said: "The 9.4% growth recorded in overseas holidays during the year is the largest annual rise in nearly twenty years, and spending on holidays exceeded pre-crisis levels for the first time since the recession."