Five-year high in North American visitors to London

Five-year high in North American visitors to London during another record-breaking year for tourism in the British capital

London welcomes 17.4 million international visitors, with more than two million travelling from North America to experience the capital’s culture and heritage

Visitors to London from North America have reached a five-year high as the British capital welcomes more international visitors than ever before, according to new figures released today by the UK’s International Passenger Survey (IPS).

The new figures show London welcomed 2.3 million North American visitors in 2014 up from the previous record in 2013. 13.4% of all international visitors travelled to the British capital from North America, with the majority coming from the USA. The city’s royal heritage, culture and world-famous attractions are proving irresistible draws for millions of North American visitors, according to the Mayor of London’s international promotional company, London & Partners.

The surge in North American visitors began in 2011 and has increased year-on-year since the 2012 Olympic Games, with recent figures showing increased spend from this market in the city’s restaurants, hotels and attractions. In 2014 international visitors boosted London’s economy by £11.8 billion compared to £11.5 billion in 2013, an increase of 3%, with North American visitors spending £1.9 billion in 2014 compared to £1.8 billion the previous year.

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 NFL International Series heading our way we look forward to welcoming many thousands more visitors to London.”

The city proved to be one of the world’s biggest tourist magnets in 2014 with a diverse and eclectic mix of blockbuster exhibitions and events, including Henri Matisse: The Cut Outs at the Tate Modern, Ming: 50 years that Changed China at the British Museum, Anselm Kiefer at the Royal Academy, Sherlock Holmes at the Museum of London, the Frieze Art Fair, the NFL International Series, Tour de France Grand Départ, Wimbledon Tennis Championships and the Chelsea Flower Show, encouraging people to visit from all over the world.

A record 58 million people visited the city’s 40 most popular tourist attractions last year, up four per cent compared to 2013, according to the Attractions Monitor, a detailed visitor survey compiled by London & Partners, the Mayor’s international promotional company for the city.

Driven by the 100th Anniversary of World War I, one of the most significant trends was an increase in people visiting military exhibitions, which rose by 22% to 3.6million. The Tower of London’s Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red, captured the attention of North America and the rest of the world, with more than 5 million people visiting the display. Maritime attractions, such as the HMS Belfast, also increased 13% to 3m visits.

“It has been incredible to welcome so many visitors to our three London branches, IWM London, HMS Belfast and Churchill War Rooms, since 2014”, says Diane Lees, Director-General of Imperial War Museums. “We hope to see a continuing rise in visitors during the next 12 months, with our new autumn exhibition Lee Miller: A Woman’s War, and our on-going contemporary art programme at IWM London.”

This year London has secured some of the world’s best exhibitions including Goya: the Portraits at the National Gallery, The World Goes Pop at the Tate Modern, and the phenomenally popular Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty at the V&A. The city will also host the 9th annual NFL International Series, Formula E, and some of the biggest matches in the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

Gordon Innes, Chief Executive of London & Partners, which runs http://www.VisitLondon.com, added: “London continues to attract record numbers of international visitors, injecting billions into the capital’s economy each year. The arrival of Princess Charlotte, combined with the London’s heritage, attractions and world-leading cultural offer, is expected to attract many more millions from North America and the rest of the world, continuing the growth of international visitor numbers in 2015.”

Linton Wadsworth, from Radisson Blu Edwardian, London part of 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, through ongoing investment and continuous innovation across our properties.”

International visitors are the leading driver for growth across London’s cultural attractions, accounting for the majority of visits**. Later this year, in an effort to continue that growth, VisitLondon.com, in partnership with the GREAT Britain Campaign, will launch its 2nd annual international campaign to promote the impressive breadth of cultural activities happening across the capital, including blockbuster exhibitions, performances, and festivals, during the upcoming Autumn Season.

London’s Autumn Season will showcase to the world the incredible season of culture coming to the capital, taking in the world-class events that strengthen the city’s reputation as a global cultural powerhouse.

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