London announced today that it has welcomed over 16 million international visitors in one year for the first time in history, making the city one of the most popular vacation destinations in the world.
Following the hugely successful London 2012 Olympic Games and Diamond Jubilee, the city has experienced a massive boom in visitors as 16.8 million people arrived in 2013, up 9 per cent compared to 2012, according to figures released today by the Office for National Statistics’ International Passenger Survey. International visitors also spent a record £11.2 billion on shopping, hotels, restaurants and visiting attractions last year, over £1 billion more than in 2012.
London welcomed 2.3 million North American visitors in 2013, accounting for almost 14% of all international visits representing a 2.7% increase compared to 2012. North American visitors are London’s largest market by spend, with £1.8 billion being spent in 2013 equating to 16% of the total international spend.
The positive picture for last year is reflected across Britain which welcomed nearly 33 million visitors, a six per cent increase compared to 2012, who spent £21 billion, an increase of 13 per cent compared to the previous year. Early figures for the first two months of 2014 also show there was a nine per cent increase in tourist numbers across Britain.
According to the International Passenger Survey (IPS) London’s previous best year was in 2006 when the city welcomed 15.6 million visitors, just exceeding the 2012 number.
Tourists from around the globe have been flocking to London in record-breaking numbers to experience world-class exhibitions and theatre, explore the city’s rich culture, pageantry and history, dine at renowned Michelin-starred restaurants, visit iconic royal palaces, and watch and take part in major sporting events.
The British Museum, boosted by exhibitions such as ‘Life and death in Pompeii and Herculaneum’ was the most popular London attraction, drawing over 6.5 million visitors and making 2013 the museum’s most successful year on record. The National Gallery and Natural History Museum also experienced high increases in visitation. The Historic Royal Palaces, including the Tower of London, Kensington Palace and Hampton Court Palace also celebrated a record-breaking year, welcoming over four million visitors for the first time following successful exhibitions like ‘Fashion Rules’ and ‘Secrets of the Royal Bed Chamber’.
Blockbuster 2014 Cultural Season Anticipated: Artistic Masterpieces, 100th Anniversary of World War I, and the World’s Favorite Detective
Commenting on the enduring popularity of London’s unique heritage, the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: “These record-breaking figures are a tribute to the outstanding mix of culture, art, music and sport to be found here and more is planned. With major international sporting events including the Rugby World Cup and the Tour de France and spectacular exhibitions at the Tate and the British Museum this year, it is clear that this wonderful city will not rest on its laurels.”
London plans to ensure that 2014 is another momentous year for visitation with the scheduling of transformative cultural events. The British Museum’s exhibition ‘Ming: 50 Years that changed China’ will include rare loans of some of the finest objects ever made in China and tell the story of this critical period in Chinese history. The V&A’s exhibition on ‘Constable: The Making of a Master’ will reveal the hidden stories of how the artist created some of his most loved and well-known paintings. And the National Gallery’s exhibit ‘Rembrandt: The Final Years’ will bring together approximately 40 paintings, 20 drawings and 30 prints by the master to offer visitors a once in a lifetime opportunity to experience the passion and innovation of his late works.
Among many other 2014 events expected to capture worldwide attention is the commemoration of the 100th Anniversary of World War I with the re-opening of the Imperial war Museum in July, and the ‘Great War in Portraits’ exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery.
Together with an exhibition about fictional detective Sherlock Holmes at the Museum of London and the Thames River Festival in September, this year offers a feast of cultural activities for visitors.
Kit Malthouse, Chairman of London & Partners, the city’s official promotional organisation noted: “London is continuing to build on its success and is offering world-class exhibitions and attractions that people are prepared to travel from all corners of the globe to see. From spectacular river festivals to exhibitions showcasing the world’s greatest artists, to the world’s most famous fictional detective, the city offers something for everyone, young and old.”
About London & Partners
London & Partners is the official promotional organisation for London, attracting and delivering value to business, students and visitors. We work to maintain London’s position as the No 1 international visitor destination in the world by marketing to established and emerging markets. We work with the travel industry to promote London to individual leisure travellers and groups worldwide.
For more information on London attractions visit www.visitlondon.com