London’s tourism boom has continued during the second quarter of 2015, with the city welcoming a record 5.1 million international visitors between April and June this year, six per cent more than the same period last year, according to the Office for National Statistics International Passenger Survey (IPS).
Tourist spending over the same period was £3.2 billion, an eight per cent increase compared with the second quarter of 2014. Over the past five years (2009-2014), the number of overseas visitors coming to London has risen by 22.5 per cent.
The national picture is also positive with 9.9 million international visitors coming to the UK between April and June 2015, five per cent more than the same period last year. Over half of these international visits to the UK were to London. Tourist spending across the UK over this period was £5.8 billion, a seven per cent increase compared with the second quarter of 2014.
This week London was once again named the number one meetings destination in Europe by the American Express Meetings & Events 2016 Global Meetings Forecast, ahead of Paris, Amsterdam and Brussels. It was also chosen as the most popular tourist destination in the world for the second year running by MasterCard in the Global Cities Index report. According to the report, London is forecast to host 18.82 million international visitors in 2015 putting the city ahead of Bangkok and Paris.
Tracy Halliwell, Director of Business Tourism & Major Events at London & Partners, the capital’s official promotional organisation added: “These positive figures bode well for another year of strong leisure and business visitor numbers and spend across the city’s hotels, venues, restaurants and attractions. We constantly look for new ways to build and grow the city’s leisure and business tourism offer which supports tens of thousands of jobs across the capital. This includes developing innovative tourism campaigns, bidding for major events such as the European Society of Cardiology’s annual congress and supporting the growth and development of new business events and conferences.”
The record business and leisure visitor numbers are attributed, in part, to many of the notable corporate and association events taking place in London, such as the 2015 London Technology Week, which welcomed hundreds of international companies and tens of thousands of visitors to London to take part in more than 200 events.
Other standout events from the first two quarters of 2015 include Advertising Week Europe, the region’s largest annual gathering for the creative, media and advertising industries, hosting more than 23,000 attendees, and the EuroPerio8 Congress, the world’s leading conference in periodontology and implant dentistry.
In August this year ExCeL hosted the European Society of Cardiology’s annual conference, the world’s largest and most influential cardiovascular event, which saw 32,773 medical professionals come to London, the highest delegate attendance in the events history. James Rees, Executive Director, ExCeL London, said: “The record number of international meeting planners that are now choosing London is testament to our commitment to delivering great event outcomes for both organisers and delegates. The world-renowned attraction of London is responsible for delivering record-breaking attendance and is why so many clients are seeing our city as a prime location for their events. At ExCeL, we are committed to continuing our investment in the venue in the build-up to the opening of our onsite Crossrail station in 2018 and beyond, cementing our reputation as a home of world leading events.”
The IPS figures show that London’s popularity is going from strength to strength, with increasing numbers of visitors coming to London each year 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.
London’s Autumn Season of blockbuster exhibitions, including Cosmonauts: Birth of the Space Age at the Science Museum and Crime Museum Uncovered at the Museum of London, are expected to attract many thousands of international visitors. The city’s major events are also drawing significant numbers of tourists. Earlier this year the capital hosted the annual cycling event Prudential RideLondon, and over the last month has welcomed some of the biggest matches of the 2015 Rugby World Cup. In January 2016, the city will add another major event to its calendar with the free outdoor light festival, Lumiere London. This is the first event of its kind to take place in the capital and will feature a stunning array of light installations, to be enjoyed by Londoners and visitors alike.