London, the most popular tourist destination in the world for the second year running by MasterCard in the Global Cities Index, welcomed a record 5.1 million international visitors between April and June this year, six per cent more than the same period last year. During the second quarter of 2015, tourist spending was £3.2 billion, an eight per cent increase compared with the second quarter of 2014. Over the past five years (2009-2014), the number of overseas visitors coming to London has risen by 22.5 per cent.
The national picture is also positive with 9.9 million international visitors coming to the UK between April and June 2015, five per cent more than the same period last year. Over half of these international visits to the UK were to London. Tourist spending across the UK over this period was £5.8 billion, a seven per cent increase compared with the second quarter of 2014.
The latest figures follow on from a record-breaking 2014 when 17.4 million overseas visitors travelled to London, spending £11.8 billion across the city’s restaurants, hotels and attractions. According to MasterCard in the Global Cities Index report, London is forecast to host 18.82 million international visitors in 2015 putting the city ahead of Bangkok and Paris.
The IPS figures show that London’s popularity is going from strength to strength, with increasing numbers of visitors coming to London each year to attend the capital’s calendar of world-class exhibitions, visit the city’s famous landmarks, enjoy its diverse culture, and watch major sporting events.
London’s Autumn Season of blockbuster exhibitions, including Cosmonauts: Birth of the Space Age at the Science Museum and Crime Museum Uncovered at the Museum of London, are expected to attract many thousands of international visitors. The city’s major events are also drawing significant numbers of tourists. Earlier this year the capital hosted the annual cycling event Prudential RideLondon, and over the last month has welcomed some of the biggest matches of the 2015 Rugby World Cup. In January 2016, the city will add another major event to its calendar with the free outdoor light festival, Lumiere London. This is the first event of its kind to take place in the capital and will feature a stunning array of light installations, to be enjoyed by Londoners and visitors alike.