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A total of 17.4 million visits were made to London last year, up 3.5% from 2013’s record of 16.8 million.
The surge in visitors since the 2012 Olympic Games has been welcomed by businesses as international visitors are spending more in the city’s restaurants, hotels and attractions than ever before.
Visitors boosted the capital’s economy by £11.8 billion compared to £11.5 billion in 2013, an increase of 3%.
The rise in visitor numbers was reflected across Britain, which welcomed nearly 34.4 million visitors, a 5.2% increase year-on-year, according to new figures released by the Office for National Statistics International Passenger Survey (IPS).
International tourists spent £21.8 billion, up 2.8% compared to the previous year.
One of the most significant trends was an increase in people visiting military exhibitions in the capital, which rose by 22% to 3.6 million, driven by the 100th Anniversary of World War I.
The Tower of London’s Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red, captured the world’s attention, with more than five million people visiting the display. Maritime attractions, such as the HMS Belfast, also increased 13% to three million visits.
A record 58 million people from the UK and overseas visited London’s 40 most popular tourist attractions last year, up 4% compared to 2013, according to the Attractions Monitor, a visitor survey compiled by London & Partners, mayor Boris Johnson’s international promotional company for the city.
Johnson said: “These terrific new figures confirm that record numbers of tourists are spending record amounts of dosh in our amazing city.
“Our status as the number one destination in the world is surely beyond any doubt, and with incredible attractions like the Rugby World Cup heading our way we look forward to welcoming many thousands more visitors to London.”
London will this year host Formula E, the NFL International Series and some of the biggest matches in the 2015 Rugby World Cup.
Gordon Innes, chief executive of London & Partners which runs VisitLondon.com, said: “Royal occasions, like the arrival of Princess Charlotte, combined with London’s heritage, attractions and world-leading cultural offer, is expected to attract many more millions from the UK and abroad, continuing the growth of international visitor numbers in 2015.”
Later this year VisitLondon.com, in partnership with the GREAT Britain Campaign, will launch its second annual international campaign to promote cultural activities across the capital, including exhibitions, performances and festivals.
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