The capital's official visitor statistics for 2012, one of the most exciting years in London's history, have today been revealed by London & Partners, the Mayor's official promotional organisation.
The positive figures from the International Passenger Survey (IPS) reveal an increase in both visitor numbers and visitor spend during 2012.
Visitor numbers increased year on year to 15.46 million visitors which is a healthy rise of 1.1% in comparison to 2011. The rise of around 150,000 more visitors over the twelve months is the equivalent of filling two Wembley stadiums.
The increase of 1.1% is seen as exceptionally positive in light of the current economic downturn in many European markets - two-thirds of London's visitors audience comes from Europe. The much anticipated displacement effect, which many other Olympic host cities have experienced during Olympic years, appears to have been mitigated.
2012 also saw London expenditure rise to £10.08 billion which is an increase of 7.0%. This very robust boost in tourism receipts for 2012, almost two-thirds of a billion pound increase, can be linked to the strong Q3 period which includes the popular summer holiday period, but also the Olympic and Paralympic Games. Figures indicate that international visitors took advantage of the spectacle and atmosphere of the Games.
The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: "2012 was an amazing year in which we had a string of golden opportunities to show the world why London is the best big city on earth. One of the most successful Olympic & Paralympic Games in living memory, preceded by the fantastic Queen's Diamond Jubilee celebrations, gave us a platform to shine to an audience of billions. It's clear that London's attraction as a global visitor destination remained immensely strong in 2012 and, despite the predictions of the gloomsters and the Olymposceptics, London was anything but a ghost town. Now the task is to look forward and do everything we can to build on what we achieved last summer and deliver the lasting legacy that was at the heart of our Olympic bid."
Another significant highlight of the figures also shows the Post Olympics period of Q4 (September - December), which saw very strong growth in visits with an increase of over 8%. This indicates no evidence of any sustained post-Olympics hangover that other host-cities have experienced in the past. Particularly positive results are indicated from the emerging and developing economies including the BRIC countries of Brazil, Russia, India, and China which saw a significant post-game boost in Q4, whereby visits rose around 18%.
In spite of economic stress in the Eurozone, London's core European markets performed well with a notable improvement, which highlights that London is still a key destination for European visitors. But 2012 also saw a strong growth outside of the Eurozone especially from the Nordic countries such as Denmark, Iceland, Norway and Sweden.
As a backdrop to the Olympic Games and Diamond Jubilee celebrations, seen by billions around the world, 2012 was London's opportunity to showcase what a great city it is to visit, study and do business in.
Gordon Innes, CEO of London & Partners added: "London & Partners worked closely with the tourism industry before, during and after the Olympic Games to tackle displacement risks head on and make the most of the global audience. Together, we developed compelling reasons for people to travel to London and, following the Games, got straight back into the market, reaching 120 million viewers who watched the Games on TV and encouraging them to book a trip. We are, therefore, very pleased to see that there has been a strong bounce and London appears to be bucking the trend of earlier Olympic host cities."The magic continues in London for 2013, with visitors attracted to the capital by the array of new hotels, entertainment, attractions and much more. Major events such as the reopening of the Olympic Park, the 60th anniversary of the Queen's Coronation which will be home to a string of music concerts and athletics events this summer will give even more reason for visitors to return to London throughout the year.