Is London the world’s most visited city? Foreign tourists soared in summer of 2013
Almost 4.9million overseas visitors descended on London between July and September last year, with many witnessing national celebrations that included Andy Murray lifting the Wimbledon trophy and the birth of Prince George of Cambridge.
The official figures, released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), showed that for the first nine months of last year, visitor figures rose to 12.8million, an increase of 12 per cent compared to 2012.
International visitors also spent over £3.37 billion on shopping, hotels, restaurants and visiting attractions during the summer, up five per cent compared to the same time last year.
The city’s mayor, Boris Johnson said of the tourism boost: ‘With so many fascinating museums, the best theatre scene in the world, more green space than any other European city, numerous top sporting venues, a low crime rate and much else besides, it is no wonder that people from all over the globe are flocking to London in record numbers.
He added: ‘These incredible figures prove that London is without doubt the greatest city on the planet.’
The bumper summer could push the annual tourism figures to a record-breaking 16million for 2013, making London the world’s most visited city, ahead of Paris, Bangkok and New York.
The phenomenal figures were announced as London and Partners, the capital’s promotional organisation, released a series of videos showing a more personal side to the city.
Famous Londoners, from Mayor Boris Johnson and celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay, to actress Joanna Lumley and model Twiggy, have detailed what makes London so special to them in a series of videos.
Posted on the website VisitLondon.com/story, the short videos document Ramsay’s favourite eateries, Johnson’s love of cycling to the Olympic Park and Lumley’s secret escapes to Holland Park.
Two-wheeled wonder: Mayor Boris Johnson loves nothing more than exploring London by bike
The actress and human rights campaigner first fell in love with London in the 1960s, when she says the city acted as a ‘magnet’ for the young. And for the last 20 years she has lived in Stockwell, south London, where she adores hearing the chimes of Big Ben.
In the video, Joanna explains: ‘I’ve lived in London for certainly 45 years and every single day, I see another road or alley, or close or garden that I have never seen before.
‘Holland Park is one of the best kept secrets in London. It’s got parterres, winding paths, statues, a little opera house, a beautiful restaurant and an orangery. It has duck ponds and peacocks which roost in the trees. There are tulips in springtime and camellias coming out before the snow has disappeared. It’s a fantastic place.’
In his video interview, Ramsay – as expected – focuses on the city’s foodie scene. He says: ‘Whenever we are returning from a long trip, the first thing we do is go out for a great curry on Brick Lane which is phenomenal. I’ve been to India but I find curries in Brick Lane better – you can’t beat a good London curry.