London Eye
The London Eye, one of the capital's main attractions. Graham Lanktree

A record number of overseas tourists is expected to flock to Britain this year, taking advantage of the pound's sharp devaluation in the aftermath of the Brexit referendum.

According to figures released by tourist promotion agency VisitBritain, the number of overseas tourists is expected to increase 6% year-on-year in 2017 to 39.7 million, while spending is forecast to increase 14% to £25.7bn.

In the first six months of the year, the number of overseas visitors rose 8% from the corresponding period last year to a record 23.1 million, while in July alone it topped four million for the first time.

Britain has become a more appealing destination for overseas tourists since the Brexit vote has driven the pound sharply lower than it was up until June 2016.

Sterling has lost around 14% of its value in the 16 months since the EU referendum, meaning overseas visitors get better value for money on British shores than they did in the past.

However, British Tourist Authority chairman Steve Ridgway, warned the pound's depreciation would not be enough to keep tourists flocking to Britain in the future, as the tourism sector remained highly competitive.

"Tourism is a fiercely competitive global industry and you cannot just build a strong, resilient industry on a weaker currency," he explained.

"We must continue to invest in developing world-class tourism products, getting Britain on the wish-list of international and domestic travellers and we must make it easy for visitors to make that trip."

Meanwhile, Tourism Minister John Glen said the record number of visitors was "testament to our world-class attractions and the innovation of our tourism industry".

"Tourism contributes billions to the UK economy and supports millions of jobs," he added.

It is not just overseas tourists who have discovered a new love for Britain, however, as the number of Britons opting to spend their holidays at home has also increased. So-called "staycations" have steadily risen over the last 12 months, with the number of domestic overnight holidays in England climbing 7% year-on-year to a record 20.4 million in the first half of 2017.

That drove spending up by 17% from the corresponding period last year, to a record £4.6bn. The figures confirm a shift in pattern highlighted earlier this week by a report from trade body UK Finance, which revealed overseas spending on UK debit cards declined 13% year-on-year in August.

Similarly, data released by Visa and IHS Markit on Monday (9 October) showed hotels and restaurants saw an increase in spending of 3.5% in September alone.