A record number of foreign visitors descended on London in 2014, providing a massive boost to the economy and continuing a trend that started with the 2012 Olympics, a new study has revealed.
There were 17.4 million visits to the capital last year, an increase of 3.5 per cent over the previous record of 16.8 million in 2013, according to figures released by the Office for National Statistics.
Welcoming more international visitors than ever before was good for business, as holidaymakers are spending more at restaurants, hotels and attractions, said London & Partners, the promotional firm which runs VisitLondon.
Foreign visitors provided a £11.8 billion boost to the economy in 2014, up three per cent from the £11.5 billion they poured into the capital in 2013, the ‘International passenger survey’ stated.
London & Partners attributed the increase to the city’s cultural attractions and sporting events – from popular exhibits at Tate Modern and the British Museum to the Tour de France and Wimbledon tennis championships.
It said a record 58 million people from the UK and overseas visited London’s 40 most popular tourist attractions, and one of the most noticeable trends was increased attendance at sites which hosted Great War centenary commemorations.
Five million people visited Tower of London’s Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red exhibit, a spectacular display which featured 888,246 ceramic poppies in its moat – one for each British and Commonwealth casualty in World War I.
London Mayor Boris Johnson said in a statement: ‘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.’
London wasn’t the only region which saw an uptick in visitors.
London & Partners said the uplift is reflected across Britain, which welcomed nearly 34.4 million international tourists in 2014 (a 5.2 per cent increase compared to 2013) who spent £21.8 billion, up nearly three per cent from the previous year.