London’s world-class visitor attractions are helping drive a big increase in tourists coming to the capital – putting the city on course for its most successful tourism year.Official figures released today (Thursday 9th October) show that international tourists made nearly 8.5 million trips to the city in the first six months of this year, a 7.6 per cent increase when compared to the same period in 2013.
The visitor numbers which are released ahead of IMEX America next week are predicted to stay high as museums and galleries across the capital open their doors for a blockbuster Autumn Season and the city gears up to welcome dozens of life size Paddington Bears in preparation for the global release of the new film. A host of new venues for meetings and events are also set to open their doors over the coming months, including one of the most talked about venue openings of the year, The Sky Garden at 20 Fenchurch Street, The Standard Grill at Andre Balazs boutique Chiltern Firehouse hotel and the reopening of the The Lanesborough hotel on Hyde Park Corner.
According to the Office for National Statistics International Passenger Survey, visitors to London spent nearly £5.3 billion an increase of 6 per cent on the same period last year.
The good news for London was replicated across the whole of the United Kingdom with the first half of 2014 being the most popular period ever for tourism into the UK. Tourists made 16.41 million trips to the UK between January and June, an 8% rise on the same period in 2013. Spending by foreign residents in the UK has reached £8.92bn so far this year.
Speaking about the record visitor figures Tracy Halliwell, Director of Business Tourism & Major Events at London & Partners, says: “We are continually striving to promote the capital’s strengths to the world and this is being reflected in the number of business and leisure visitors who are coming to the city in ever increasing numbers. From magnificent exhibitions, theatre and nightlife to our fantastic collection of diverse and unique venues, London offers so much choice to visitors that more and more people are deciding the city is well worth visiting for both leisure and business trips.”
This summer, the capital’s museums and galleries had record-breaking visitor numbers. In August alone, the re-opened Imperial War Museum welcomed more than 250,000 visitors as it helped to mark the centenary of the First World War. One of the most anticipated venue openings of the year IWM London, the flagship venue for Imperial War Museums, now features a spectacular Atrium designed by Norman Foster’s pioneering architecture firm and a breath-taking hanging gallery in the rooftop, providing dramatic views of the floors beneath. The National Gallery also saw 681,000 pass through its doors – more than 100,000 above last August’s figure.
Kit Malthouse, Chair of London & Partners, the city’s business and promotional company, said: “These latest figures once again prove that London is the world’s favourite tourist destination with more people than ever coming to enjoy everything the city offers, from world class culture and theatre to the best sporting events. We are experiencing significant increases in the number of people attending museums and galleries, and with the exceptional line up of exhibitions across the city this autumn we are expecting London to be one of the hottest tickets around. It’s great news that increasing numbers of people, from all corners of the globe, are choosing to come to the city to soak up the atmosphere and experience the most vibrant and diverse city on earth.”
To introduce event planners to the best London has to offer, London & Partners will be attending IMEX America in Las Vegas on stand 2416 and EIBTM in Barcelona on stand G10. At IMEX America visitors to the stand will enjoy a 3D virtual tour of London’s famous landmarks, have the opportunity to create a dynamic event itinerary with our knowledgeable team and enjoy a taste of London at our famous happy hour.