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International flights to Manchester on the rise

International flights to Manchester on the rise

International flights to Manchester, Birmingham and Glasgow are growing in popularity as these once-industrial cities come to be seen as fashionable travel alternatives to London and Edinburgh.

That is according to new statistics released by VisitBritain, which show that overnight stays by overseas visitors increased dramatically between 2006 and 2009.

The national tourism agency found that the English and Scottish capitals remain the most popular urban destinations in the UK, with 15 million and 1.3 million overseas visitors typically staying in the respective cities each year.

However, Manchester saw an annual average of 900,000 overseas visitors for the period, followed by Birmingham with 737,000 and Glasgow with 687,000.

Interestingly, the research also showed that Americans prefer to visit Bath more than any other nation, while Bristol and Plymouth are favoured holiday locations for the French.

Patricia Yates, strategy and communications director at VisitBritain, said: "This survey confirms an astonishing transformation of our industrial heartlands has taken place.

"They have become dynamic, stylish international destinations that are increasingly beloved of foreign visitors."

Preliminary figures from the agency show that there were 29.7 million visitors to the UK from overseas in 2009, with France (12.8 percent), the Irish Republic (9.8 percent) and the US (9.5 percent) representing the biggest markets by volume.