The capital is forecast to receive a record 18.7 million visits – equivalent to more than the entire population of Holland – putting it ahead of nearest rivals Bangkok, Paris and Singapore. The 8 per cent surge in tourism in 2014 means London regains its title after coming second to the Thai capital last year.
Delighted London tourism bosses said the findings showed that London maintained its lure even after the post Olympic glow had faded and in the absence of a major Royal celebration.
Marion King, UK head of payments group Mastercard, which commissions the annual Global Destinations report, said huge one-off events like this year’s Tour de France visit combined with its culture, history, shopping and arts meant London offers a uniquely appealing package. She said: “You won’t be disappointed if you go to London.”
Historic sights: the Grand Palace in Bangkok
At the same unrest in Thailand had made Bangkok less attractive and highlighted London’s stability, she added.
Major attractions in London this year include blockbuster art shows such as “Ming: 50 Years that changed China” at the British Museum and “Rembrandt: The Final Years” at the National Gallery as well as a Sherlock Holmes exhibition at the Museum of London in the Autumn and the Thames River Festival in September.
The findings of the report, which are based on detailed analysis of official tourism figures, the number of passengers on flights and hotel stays for 132 destinations, also reveal the huge importance of the industry to the London and broader British ecomomy.
Foreign visitors are predicted to spend a total of $19.3 billion (£11.3 billion) in London’s hotels, restaurants, shops and theatres this year, putting it ahead of second placed New York on $18.6 billion. The spending is an average of £1,387 per London resident.
Ms King said London’s rising reputation as a shopping city, with a west to east “shopping strip” stretching from Westfield London in Shepherds Bush through Mayfair, Oxford Street and Soho and Westfield Stratford City, had helped raise its status among high spending visitors from countries such as Russia and China.
Slipping down the table: the news will finally quash persistent claims that Paris is the world’s favourite tourist destination
The findings of the Global Destinations Cities Index, the most widely respected independent analysis of visitor numbers come after official Government figures showing international vists rising to a record 16.8 million last year. They will also finally quash rival claims from Paris to be the most visited city.
Despite years of warnings and indecision about London’s airport capacity, the capital also tops the “air hub index” which measures a city’s connections with the rest of the world. Pairs comes second with Frankfurt third.
The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: “With nearly nineteen million visitors this year London is the world’s favourite place to visit. Our city perfectly combines history, heritage, arts and culture, not to mention vast amounts of green space and major events that are the envy of the planet.”
London seals its status as world"s favourite tourist destination ahead of ...