Overseas visitors to London spend more than £8.6 billion in 2010 as capital bucks UK trend

New international travel figures show that visitors to London spent a record £8.6 billion here last year, as the capital welcomed its highest numbers of tourists and business travellers in four years.

The latest figures from the International Passenger Survey (IPS) reveal that the number of people visiting London in 2010 grew for the first time since 2006, with 14.6 million journeys made - up almost 3 per cent on the previous year.

2010 proved to be particularly successful for the capital as it bucked the trend for the rest of the UK, which suffered an overall decrease in visitors of 4%. The figures reveal that the capital was a strong magnet for tourism and business with visitors spending a record £8.6 billion - up more than 5%

The figures show a major boost to the city was spurred by positive growth from emerging markets, including the BRIC nations, with Russia providing the biggest increase of 37% followed by Brazil (36%), India (31%) and China (17%) and a total spend of over £500 million up a massive 40% when compared to 2009.

With the Royal wedding, the Queen's Diamond Jubilee and the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games all on the horizon, London is now in a strong position to capitalise on last year's strong performance and cement its reputation as the best big city in the world to visit and do business in.

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: 'London has always been a magnet for visitors from all four corners of the globe and these new figures show that our attraction is stronger than ever. Whether it's for business or pleasure the capital offers an experience that no other world city can and as we look towards the 2012 Games and beyond our offering is only going to get better. We must do all we can to stay at the top of our game and ensure that we give all visitors to London a welcome and an experience that they will never forget.'  

The IPS figures follow the news that a new promotional agency for the capital has been created. London & Partners brings together the work of the capital's former key promotional agencies – Visit London, Think London and Study London, which were previously responsible for attracting tourism, inward investment and international students.

The new agency will promote the capital with one voice and vision as the capital gears up for 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games with an aim to attract more visitors, investors and businesses as well as international students.

Interim CEO, London & Partners Danny Lopez said: 'These figures show that London continues to be a popular destination for both leisure and business visitors. It is very positive news for the capital that we are not only attracting new markets but continuing to see growth from some of our traditional markets.

'As we prepare to host some incredible events such as the royal wedding, the Queen’s Jubilee and the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, London & Partners are well positioned to promote all that is unique about London to maintain our position as the number one international visitor destination.'

The increase in visitor numbers is particularly welcome despite the travel disruption caused last year by volcanic ash, strikes and severe weather conditions. The news for 2010 was positive for both the leisure and business tourism sectors with around 7.3 million leisure visitors (3.2% increase) and 2.8 million business visitors (7.6% increase).

London's key Eurozone markets also continued the upward growth with 5.8% more visitors spending 10.4% more than in 2009. Italy led London’s key European markets with an increase in visitors of 23.7% followed by Germany 17% and France 6%.

Visits from the USA provided mixed news with business visits increasing by 6.23%, the first growth since 2007, while leisure visitors saw an overall decrease of 10%, however, by the fourth quarter of the year, figures did indicate that leisure visits were starting to increase. The overall spend from the USA was approximately £1.3 billion.

The provisional IPS figures come hot on the heels of the latest international student figures which reveal that over 105,000 international higher education students now come to London per year making it the most popular destination for studying abroad. London & Partners also released new research highlighting that the capital is the world's most popular destination for hosting major events.

With a huge number of exciting events taking place in 2011, from the Festival of Britain at the South Bank to Badminton World Championships and UEFA Champion’s League final, London is gearing up to welcome even more visitors this year.

Notes to Editors

IPS figures can be accessed via the following link: http://www.visitbritain.org/insightsandstatistics/inboundvisitorstatistics/latestdata/index.aspx