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London welcomes 17.4 million international visitors in another record-breaking year for tourism

London welcomed 17.4 million international visitors to the city during 2014, topping last year’s record-breaking figures, according to data released by the Office for National Statistics’ International Passenger Survey (IPS).   
The new figures show there were 17.4 million business visits and leisure stays in the city during 2014 up 3.5% from the previous record of 16.8million visits in 2013. The number of business visitors to London reached 3.3 million, up from 3.2 million in 2013.

The surge in visitors since the 2012 Olympic Games has been welcomed by businesses as international visitors are spending more in the city’s restaurants, hotels and attractions than ever before. In 2014 visitors boosted London’s economy by £11.8 billion compared to £11.5 billion in 2013, an increase of 3%.  

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: “These terrific new figures confirm that record numbers of tourists are spending record amounts of dosh in our amazing city. Our status as the number one destination in the world is surely beyond any doubt, and with incredible attractions like the Rugby World Cup heading our way we look forward to welcoming many thousands more visitors to London.”  

The record business visitor numbers are attributed, in part, to many of the flagship corporate and association events taking place in London, such as 2014’s inaugural London Technology Week which saw tens of thousands of people attend over 200 events during the week. Other highlight events from 2014 include Advertising Week Europe, Soho Create and the European Society of Pathology’s congress which enjoyed a 23 per cent increase in attendance compared to 2013. Later this year 35,000 medical professionals are expected in the capital the European Society of Cardiology’s annual congress from 29 August – 2 September 2015.  

The uplift in visitor numbers is reflected across Britain which welcomed nearly 34.4 million visitors, a 5.2% increase compared to 2013. International tourists spent £21.8 billion, up 2.8% compared to the previous year.  

Gordon Innes, Chief Executive of London & Partners, the official convention bureau for the city, adds: “London continues to attract record numbers of international visitors, injecting billions into the capital’s economy each year. London’s attractiveness as a business destination, its expertise within the technology, life sciences and financial sectors, combined with its rich heritage and world-leading cultural offer, is expected to attract many more millions from the UK and abroad, continuing the growth of international visitor numbers in 2015.”  

London is expecting a boost of up to 12,000 further hotel rooms during 2015 to meet increased demand within the city. David Gibbons, from Edwardian Group London, says: “London is a booming world city with a tourism offer that is diversifying and improving year-on-year. We are committed to helping drive forward the city’s tourism economy, particularly by enhancing our MICE market offer through ongoing investment and continuous innovation across our properties, such as The May Fair or our Radisson Blu Edwardian, Heathrow hotel.”  

Hotels due to open later this year include the eagerly awaited InterContinental® London - The O2, Hilton London Bankside, CitizenM Tower of London and The Lanesborough London.  

Situated in the newly regenerated Greenwich Peninsula and adjacent to The O2, InterContinental® London - The O2 houses 453 bedrooms and will open its doors this winter. Featuring The Arora Ballroom - a 3,100sqm luxury pillar-free events space cited among the largest in Europe – at the core of its state-of-the-art conference centre. Moments from Tate Modern the Hilton London Bankside will offer 292 contemporary rooms and suites, and ten meeting and event rooms, along with a pillar-free The Grand Ballroom. The nine storey CitizenM Tower of London hotel will also offer 370 bedrooms over eight floors above the exit hall of the Tower Hill London Underground Station when it opens later this year. Following an extensive renovation project throughout 2014, The Lanesborough will reopen in July. The designs by world renowned interior designer Alberto Pinto have enhanced all guest rooms and public areas, providing our guests with unrivalled facilities and services.  

Hotly anticipated venues for 2015 include KH Suite at Lodge Hotel, Putney, a 167sqm meetings and events space, with a private boardroom and outdoor terrace, capable of hosting up to 200 delegates for a reception. Brewer Street Car Park will also open in September 2015. A new venue in the heart of Soho, it will host London Fashion Week from this September onwards. Originally designed by architect JJ Joass in 1929, the venue now hosts audio-visual shows, exhibitions and installations. Alexandra Palace’s Victorian Theatre in north London will soon be made available for events following careful restoration and will accommodate up to 1,300 people. Its BBC studios – the birthplace of high-definition television broadcasts in 1936 – will also be transformed into an interactive visitor attraction, drawing on the BBC’s archives.

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