According to London & Partners, in 2012, 27.6m visitors stayed in London and spent £12.9bn.
15.5m of these visitors were from overseas. They spent £10.1bn, which represented 56% of the market and 80% of the total spend.
In 2013 London is set to be the world’s most popular destination for foreign travellers– smashing the 16m visitor mark by the end of the year. Total visitor spend is up 11% on 2012.
By 2015 another 2.1m overseas visitors are expected to visit. The increased visitor figures are being driven by reinvigorated markets in North America (17%), Latin America (22%) and Asia Pacific (23%). These markets deliver the highest spend per head.
Since August 2012, 12 high-end hotels have opened in London. Not exceptional in itself, were it not for the fact that London hotels continue to deliver occupancy rates of over 80%.
Another 20-plus hotels are scheduled to open in London by 2016. All indicators point to the fact that London’s tourism industry will go from strength to strength in the coming years. But why?
Rhubarb Fool account manager Constance Mance reflects on its growing popularity.
… Over recent years, London has become one of the world’s premier tourist destinations, and the trend looks set to continue. This is not new information. But what exactly makes our capital city such an irresistible place to visit?
Just take one trip on the tube or a walk down one of our bustling streets and you’ll hear native Londoners moaning – about the weather, about the crowds, probably about the tourists themselves! But something about this place makes visitors tick.
It seems like London is a place of constant evolution. The Shard, the tallest building in the European Union, now looms over our skyline as a striking and unavoidable reminder of modernity. It represents not only the development of the London Bridge quarter, but development of the city as a whole.
With it, and other developments of its kind, a whole new experience is open to both Londoners and visitors. Districts that used to lie on the periphery of the main attractions now have an identity and a draw of their own. Shops, offices, restaurants, hotels – even an observatory –
they all find a home in one remarkable structure.
This is the essence of modernity and convenience. Viewing the city from the Shard you can see just how sprawling it is, how diverse. It is this diversity that is ripe for exploring, and that draws visitors in.
Individual places of interest cease to be the main draw – the city itself is one big, incredible attraction – a playground in which there are virtually no limits on what can be discovered.
Panoramic city views and contemporary developments with luxurious multi-purpose complexes give London an explicitly modern flavour. This is heightened by the extensive development the city saw in advance of the 2012 Olympics. London’s identity has been invigorated and given a worldwide image as a cutting edge city that moves with the times.
But modernity and consequent change doesn’t obscure the rich heritage our city has to offer – it is more of an enhancement, an extra layer.
All over the city beautiful architecture and places of interest from all ages still stand proud – from gorgeous Georgian townhouses to obscure wedge-shaped medieval pubs, to a formidable river fortress. These create a sense of living, breathing history – a visible timeline, if you like. It’s the juxtaposition of extremes of old and new that gives London part of its unique edge.
Such an environment is a fertile ground for creativity and vibrant culture – and the proof is all around us. London is an unparalleled location for the arts, fashion, music, theatre – all of these things are huge draws for tourists from all destinations.
And the beauty lies in that these things are always changing – evolving and pushing boundaries. Much like the city itself.
London’s capacity for reinvention, change, and juxtaposition of modernity and heritage gives it multiple identities – and therefore innumerable selling points as a tourist destination. It is a city of cutting edge modernity and design, a city of fashion, of shopping, of history and of culture. In short, it can be whatever you make it.
The city is your oyster, so tap into one of the many growing tourist markets and make the most of it.