A sharp increase in the number of visitors from the US and North America is driving record tourism numbers across London according to London & Partners, the Mayor’s official promotional agency.
The latest official data shows London welcomed a total of 5.5 million international visitors in Q2 (April-June) an increase of 10% on the same period in 2016 and a record for the period.
Overall visitors spent £3.4 billion during their visits to London between April and June, 15% more than the same period last year. But in the same period the number of visitors coming to London from North America rose by 30% to 976,000 and the amount of money they spent rose by 23% to £764 million. It means that between April and June 18% of all overseas visitors to London were North Americans who accounted for 22% of all spending. Last month London published a new Tourism Vision for the city which projects that by 2025 more than 3.3 million US visitors a year could travel to London (up from 2.32m in 2016), cementing America’s position as London’s most important market for international tourism.
Andrew Cooke, acting chief executive officer at London & Partners, the Mayor’s official promotional agency for the capital, commented: “It is fantastic news that growing numbers of people are opting to visit London to sample the best of our capital. London is open to the world and has an appeal that clearly extends across the globe with its cultural, sporting and historical attractions. North America is our most important market for tourism by a long way and we look forward to welcoming many more visitors from there and beyond in the months to come.”
A number of events took place in Q2 which contributed to attract a record number of tourists. They include the David Hockney exhibition at the Tate Britain, Wolfgang Tillmans at the Tate Modern, the Tall Ships Festival in Greenwich, the World Cup of Gymnastics at The O2, the Joshua v Klitschko boxing fight at Wembley Stadium, the men’s hockey World League semi-final at the Hockey and Tennis Centre in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and the Oxford Cambridge Boat Race.
London’s tourism industry is worth 11.6% of the capital’s GDP and 9% across the UK as a whole. The sector employs 700,000 people in London – equivalent to 1 in 7 jobs. Some of the other fastest growing markets for visitors to London by 2025 are China (103% growth), India (90% growth), and the UAE (43%). The Tourism Vision for London, which is backed by more than 100 industry partners and supported by the Mayor of London, also projects visitor spending to grow by almost 50% to £22 billion a year, up from £14.9 billion (2016).