London holds on to top spot as world’s most popular tourist destination

London has once again been hailed as the world’s most popular tourist destination by Mastercard. It’s the second year running that the capital has topped the Global Destinations Cities Index, which provides an in-depth ranking of the 132 most travelled cities from around the world.

London is projected to welcome 18.82 million international visitors in 2015, according to the annual report, putting the capital ahead of Bangkok. Both cities have topped the Index throughout its five-year history.

Mayor of London Boris Johnson said: “I’m delighted that London has proudly held on to this coveted title, as we celebrate another triumphant and record-breaking year for tourism in the city.

"With its unrivalled mix of history, culture, culinary gems and cutting-edge creativity, I’m confident that these accolades will keep coming as the capital continues to surprise and excite visitors from all over the world.”

Europe now boasts three of the top five cities, London, Paris and Istanbul, with Bangkok and Dubai making up the global top five. Overall, nine European cities have each claimed a spot in the top 20 destination cities by international overnight visitors as follows: Barcelona (12th), Amsterdam (13th), Rome (14th), Milan (15th), Vienna (18th) and Prague (19th).

Ann Cairns, President of International Markets, Mastercard said: “MasterCard understands the importance of cities around the world both for travelers and those who live there.

"This year’s study helps us understand just how interconnected the world’s cities are the significant role they play in connecting and empowering greater numbers of people than ever before.”

The latest results from the Office of National Statistics International Passenger Survey recently revealed that the capital welcomed over 17.4 million international visits in 2014 – more than ever before. This surge in visitor numbers reflects the ever evolving and expanding tourism offer in the capital, from world class exhibitions, blockbuster entertainment and major sporting and cultural events.

London's historic and cultural assets are key drivers in encouraging international visits to the city, and preparations are currently underway across the capital for the launch of the much anticipated London’s Autumn Season 2015.

The initiative from London & Partners, the Mayor’s official promotional company for London, will bring together the city’s most high-profile cultural institutions to promote the blockbuster exhibitions and events taking place later this year and strengthen London’s reputation as a global cultural powerhouse. Highlights for this autumn season include ‘Hamlet’ at the Barbican (starring Benedict Cumberbatch), ‘The World Goes Pop’ at Tate Modern, ‘Cosmonauts: Birth of the Space Age’ at the Science Museum, and ‘The Crime Museum Uncovered’ at Museum of London.

Other attractions for the year ahead in London include the opening of Shrek’s Adventure! London in July, a collaboration between Merlin Entertainments and DreamWorks Animation. The city will also host the third annual Prudential RideLondon, fully-electric racing series Formula E, the NFL International Series, and some of the biggest matches in the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

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Notes to Editors

A full copy of the report is available for download at

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 number one 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 interviews and further information please contact Leisure Tourism Media & PR Manager Rebekah Clement on +44 (0) 20 7234 5861 / +44 (0) 7826 907415 or

About the MasterCard Global Destination Cities Index

The MasterCard Index of Global Destination Cities ranks cities in terms of the number of their total international overnight visitor arrivals and the cross-border spending by these same visitors in the destination cities, and gives visitor and passenger growth forecasts for 2015.

Public data is used in deriving the international overnight visitor arrivals and their cross-border spending in each of the 132 destination cities, using custom-made algorithms; paying special attention to eliminate the hub effects for destination cities such as Singapore, Dubai, Amsterdam and Frankfurt.

This Index and the accompanying reports are not based on MasterCard volumes or transactional data.

For more information on the MasterCard Global Destination Cities Index, please contact:

Leah Selouk, Account Director, +44 (0)20 7611 3784 /

Nicola Hanley Nicola Hanley, Account Director, +44 (0)20 7611 3597 / +44 (0)7843 573214 /