International visitor numbers to London are at a record high as the capital continues to bask in a post-Olympic glow that has seen 7.9 million tourists visit London in the first six months of 2013 and spending over £4.9 billion, a 12.4% increase compared to the same time last year.
Further growth in visitor numbers is expected next year, particularly from emerging and developing tourism markets in South America and Asia such as visitors from China increasing by 121% since 2009.
London has even more to offer visitors in 2014 with a range of new exhibitions, West End Theatre productions, international major events and hotel and restaurant openings.
London & Partners Director of Consumer Marketing and Digital Channels, Julie Chappell said: “London is one of the most inspirational and diverse capitals in the world and for tourists there is a huge range of experiences on offer from royal heritage to bespoke luxury shopping to free museums.
“London boasts 8000 restaurants, 1000 museums, 200 theatres, over 120,000 hotel rooms for all budgets, five international airports and is the gateway to Great Britain. International tourists can’t get enough of our amazing city, visiting the capital in record numbers.
“London attractions have also seen a 9.6% increase in visitor numbers in the first six months of 2013 and next year there is a range of new attractions on offer to the public including the highly anticipated opening of London’s major new tourist destination, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in Stratford.”
Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park will open its South Park Hub to the public in April including the Aquatics Centre and ArcelorMittal Orbit. The park is predicted to attract 9.3 million local and international visitors a year by 2016, hosting hundreds of events each year including sport and entertainment. The regeneration of the East End, where no two streets are the same, has made it one of the hippest areas to visit on the planet.
The capital’s cultural offering in 2014 includes the opening of the new Sam Wanamaker Playhouse in early January at Shakespeare’s Globe. This new Jacobean theatre will provide an indoor playing space during the winter months and will host a wide variety of events all year round. It will be completely unique amongst London venues, with a handmade oak structure and pit seating, lit by hundreds of candles during performances.
There will be a major Rembrandt exhibition at the National Gallery; Henri Matisse: The Cut Outs at the Tate Modern; Vikings exhibition at the British Museum; John Constable at the V&A and the Barbican is hosting a retrospective of Jean Paul Gautier’s designs from the 1970s to present day.
London’s world famous theatre district, the West End will host new musicals such as
I Can’t Sing! X Factor Musical!, Made In Dagenham, The Full Monty and the UK premiere of Tony-Award winning Urinetown. Popular classics including Fame – The Musical and Miss Saigon return to the capital in 2014.
London’s world class events start with a bang at the Mayor’s New Year’s Fireworks at the EDF Energy London Eye and continue throughout the year from the Virgin London Marathon to Tour de France 2014 to Wimbledon Championships to the second Prudential RideLondon mass cycling event and Notting Hill Carnival.
New hotels opening in the capital include The Mondrian, South Bank; The Beaumont Hotel in Mayfair and Hub by Premier Inn. Cantonese culinary genius, Alan Yau will open a Chinese Gastropub, Duck & Rice in Soho and chef Jason Atherton will continue his takeover of the London food scene with a new restaurant, City Social.
Tourism in London supports 226,000 jobs, around 5% of all employment in the capital. Every £58,000 generated by tourism supports a job in the sector.
For companies looking for a great place to combine tourism with business, conference venues in London become very attractive.
London & Partners CEO, Gordon Innes said: “We have been working hard with the GLA and our partners to capitalise on the Olympic legacy and grow visitor numbers this year and into the future. If this trend continues we are set to have a bumper 2013 with more international visitors coming to the capital than during the landmark Olympic year which attracted 15.5 million international visitors.”