A record 31.5 million Great Britain residents and international tourists came to the city in 2015 – which is an increase of 20 per cent when compared to five years ago.
London keeps setting new tourism records. Every year since the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games there has been an increase in the number of international visitors coming to the city.
Figures released today (20th May) by the Office for National Statistics, International Passenger Survey, show there were 18.6 million international visits in 2015 compared to 17.4 million in 2014, a previous record year. (seven per cent increase)
Separate data from the Great Britain Tourism Survey carried out by UK tourism body VisitEngland reveals that GB residents made 12.9 million visits to London last year, another new record.
International and GB visitors also spent £15 billion on hotels, restaurants, shopping and attractions – an increase of 35 per cent compared to 2010.
Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan said: “It is fantastic that more people than ever before are opting to visit London, to sample the best of our capital and the best of Britain. London has something for everyone and an appeal that clearly extends across the globe.
“I’ve pledged to do all I can to support our vital tourism industry so London continues to be a top choice for travellers.”
Exhibitions, theatre and major events including Cosmonauts: The Birth of Space Age, at the Science Museum, Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty at the V&A, The Elephant Man at the Theatre Royal Haymarket and the 2015 Rugby World Cup all helped to draw visitors to the city.
This year is set to be another momentous year as the UK celebrates 400 years of Shakespeare’s lasting legacy, events to mark the Queen’s 90th birthday and Tate Modern opening a major new extension, which is being hailed as the most important new cultural building in the UK since the British Library in 1998.
Bernard Donoghue, Director of the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions: “London, the world’s favourite city, continues to draw visitors from around the world thanks to our globally-known and loved attractions.
“Our palaces, cathedrals, museums, galleries, heritage sites, zoos and gardens are some of the principal reasons why record numbers of visitors come to London. From Harry Potter to Beatrix Potter, Shakespeare to shopping, the diversity and excellence of our tourism experiences are world class.”
Separate research by independent forecaster Oxford Economics predicts that London will welcome 35.6million UK and international visits to the city by 2020.
The tourism industry is a major contributor to the London economy. Overall the sector contributes more than £36 billion to the capital every year and supports around 700,000 thousand jobs.
Gordon Innes, CEO of London & Partners, the Mayor’s official promotional company for the London, said: “Millions of people want to come to London from all over the world because the city has an unrivalled mix of culture, art, music, theatre, restaurants and major events. Tourism is a crucial part of the city’s economy and we anticipate a significant increase in the number of UK and international visitors for many years to come.”
In the last five years London & Partners, which runs VisitLondon.com, has contributed nearly £500 million in economic benefit (measured GVA) to the London tourism economy and supported 8830 jobs.
Visitlondon.com is the most influential source of information for overseas visitors to London and features thousands of attractions both large and small across the entire city. Every year the site attracts 28 million unique users.
VisitLondon.com, supported by the Great Britain Campaign, British Airways and Hilton, recently launched a tourism initiative called Fans of London, celebrating the blockbuster events across London this year, including The Queen’s 90th birthday celebrations, 400 years of Shakespeare’s legacy, and the world’s first international exhibition on The Rolling Stones, Exhibitionism.