International visitors to London spent close to £9bn in the capital last year, with tourist numbers at a four-year high compared to the gloomier picture in the rest of the country.
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, up 3 per cent on the previous year.
In contrast, the rest of the UK saw visitor numbers decrease by 4 per cent last year.
“These figures show that London continues to be a popular destination for both leisure and business visitors,” said Danny Lopez, interim CEO at London & Partners, which was recently created when VisitLondon was merged with other promotional agencies.
“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.”
Overall, both business and leisure visits to London increased in 2010, with around 7.3m leisure visitors to the capital (a 3.2 per cent increase) and 2.8m business visitors (a 7.6 per cent increase).
Tourist spend in the capital was £8.6bn last year, which marked a 5 per cent increase on the previous year.
Emerging markets showed particularly strong growth in terms of tourism and spend in London compared to 2009.
Russia provided the biggest increase of 37 per cent, followed by Brazil 36 per cent, India (31 per cent) and China (17 per cent).
London’s key Eurozone markets also continued the upward growth with 5.8 per cent more visitors spending 10.4 per cent more than in 2009. Italy led London’s key European markets with an increase in visitors of 23.7 per cent followed by German (17 per cent) and France (6 per cent).
Business visits from the US increased for the first time since 2007, growing by 6.2 per cent. However, on the other end of the spectrum, leisure visitors from the US decreased last year by 10 per cent.
However, the last quarter of the year showed positive signs, indicating that leisure visits from the US were starting to increase. The overall spend from the US was approximately £1.3bn.
Olympics and beyond
The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said the city’s offering as a tourist destination will only get stronger during the 2012 Games and beyond.
“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,” he said.