London welcomed over 3.6 million overseas visits in the first three months of 2014, resulting in the best ever first quarter tourism numbers in the city’s history.
The figures published today from the latest International Passenger Survey (IPS) show an 8.6 per cent increase on the same period last year, confirming that London is on track to welcome more visitors in 2014 than the 16.8 million that came to the city in 2013 – already a record-breaking year for the capital.
Tourist spending over the same period was £2.44 billion, a 14.6 per cent increase compared with the first quarter of last year. The total spend in London’s tourism sector has gone up every quarter for the last two and a half years.
These promising figures come just one day after London was crowned the most popular tourist destination in the world by the respected MasterCard Global Cities Index report, putting the city ahead of Bangkok and Paris. According to the report, London is projected to host 18.7 million international visitors in 2014 – 300,000 more visitors than the 2013 top destination city Bangkok.
Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, welcomed the figures: “After a record-breaking year for international visitors in 2013, London is on course to see even more people flock to our great city in 2014. Yesterday London was crowned the most popular tourist destination in the world. Today these fantastic visitor figures underline the phenomenal destination that London is, combining world-class culture with constant innovation, and of course our stunning landmarks that are recognised around the world.”
The IPS figures show that visitors are coming to London in ever increasing numbers 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 including this week’s Tour de France which saw one million people take to the capital’s streets.
This autumn sees an impressive season of blockbuster exhibitions that are expected to attract millions of international visitors. They include ‘Ming: 50 Years that changed China’ at the British Museum, ‘Constable: The Making of a Master’ at the V&A and ‘Rembrandt: The Final Years’ at the National Gallery.
Summer events also expected to entice visitors to the capital include the Totally Thames River Festival, the Royal Greenwich Tall Ships Festival which will see 50 historic vessels sail down The Thames, the Royal Childhood exhibition during the Buckingham Palace summer opening and the landmark annual event, The Proms at the Royal Albert Hall.
Gordon Innes, CEO at London & Partners, the capital’s official promotional organisation adds: “We are delighted to see such strong figures in our first quarter of 2014 but London will not be resting on its laurels. We are continually seeking out new ways to build and grow the city’s offer, deliver investment for the capital and capitalise on London’s tourist offer to help increase visitor numbers this year and into the future.”