London Sets Arrivals Record in 2014
Photo courtesy of Visit Britain/James McCormick
The world’s top tourism city keeps pulling them in. With the figures fully in, 2014 turned out some 17.4 million international visitors to London, a record for the city. When a city as popular as London has been for decades receives a 3.5 percent growth, as the city did in 2014, that’s much more impressive than even a 50 percent growth rate from a normal city. The scale of visitation is so much larger.
London & Partners, the city’s international promotional company, looks to cultural attractions and sporting events as the major catalysts and cite figures from the Office for National Statistics International Passenger Survey (IPS).
The 17.4 million foreign visits to the city in 2014 easily eclipsed the 16.8 million visits in 2013. The city has been on a roll since the 2012 Olympic Games. London used the biggest of international sporting events to launch what has been a steady stream of events with an invigorated promotional effort.
London & Partners used Barnum-esque superlatives to promote each of the “blockbuster exhibitions and events,” on the schedule. The 2014 line-up included Henri Matisse: The Cut Outs at the Tate Modern, Ming: 50 years that Changed China at the British Museum, Anselm Kiefer at the Royal Academy, Sherlock Holmes at the Museum of London, the Frieze Art Fair, the Tour de France Grand Départ, Wimbledon Tennis Championships and the Chelsea Flower Show.
International visitors make up a majority of people calling at London’s cultural attractions. Later this year VisitLondon.com, in partnership with the GREAT Britain Campaign, will launch its 2nd annual international campaign to promote the breadth of cultural activities happening across the capital including exhibitions, performances and festivals, during the upcoming Autumn Season.
“These terrific new figures confirm that record numbers of tourists are spending record amounts of dosh in our amazing city,” said the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson. “Our status as the number one destination in the world is surely beyond any doubt, and with incredible attractions like the Rugby World Cup heading our way we look forward to welcoming many thousands more visitors to London.”
The “dosh” adds up to £11.8 billion compared to £11.5 billion in 2013, an increase of 3 percent for 2013.That’s more than the city’s restaurants, hotels and attractions have ever earned from foreign visitors before. London also raked it in from domestic tourists as a record 58 million people from the UK and overseas visited the city’s 40 most popular tourist attractions last year, up four percent compared to 2013, according to the Attractions Monitor, a detailed visitor survey compiled by London & Partners, compiling data from 40 London attractions.
Standing out among the attractions were those visitors who were inspired by the 100th Anniversary of World War I to visit military exhibitions, which rose by 22 percent to 3.6 million. The Tower of London’s Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red captured the world’s attention, with more than 5 million people visiting the display. Maritime attractions, such as the HMS Belfast, also increased 13 percent to 3 million visits.
Tourism has been strong all over Britain, which received some 34.4 million visitors, a 5.2 percent increase compared to 2013. International tourists spent £21.8 billion, up 2.8 percent compared to the previous year.
This year, 2015 is already off with a promotional boost thanks to the birth of Princess Charlotte. A younger generation of royals has reinvigorated the “brand” and is helping drive tourists to heritage attractions associated with royalty. London & Partners will continue to push cultural exhibitions such as Goya: the Portraits at the National Gallery, No Colour Bar at the Guildhall Art Gallery, The World Goes Pop at the Tate Modern, and Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty at the V&A. The city will also host Formula E, the NFL International Series, and some of the biggest matches in the 2015 Rugby World Cup.
The Rugby World Cup will come to several British cities from Sept. 18 to 31 with 48 matches. The U.S. team will use Leeds as their home base during the tournament and practice grounds, if you’re interested in cheering the lads on. Besides Leeds and London, Birmingham, Cardiff (Wales), Exeter, Manchester, Milton Keynes, Nottingham, Newcastle, Gloucester, and Brighton are serving as host cities.
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