UK. London’s tourism market has experienced a sharp increase in visitors from the US and North America, driving record overall tourism numbers in Q2 2017, according to London & Partners, the Mayor’s official promotional agency.
London welcomed a total of 5.5 million international visitors in Q2 (April-June) an increase of +10% on the same period in 2016 and a record for the period. Overall visitors spent £3.4 billion ($4.46 billion) during the period, a +15% rise on the same period last year.
North America, the most important source market for tourism in London, represented a +30% rise in visitor numbers to 976,000 and the amount of money they spent rose by +23% to £764 million ($1 billion).
Therefore, visitors from North America accounted for 18% of all overseas visitors to London, and accounted for 22% of all spending. The rise spells good news for travel retailers at London’s main international gateways, such as London Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted airports.
Latest traffic statistics from Heathrow Airport reported passengers from North America amounted to 1.52 million, 1.63 million and 1.69 million in May, June and July respectively. This number has already increased to 1.71 million in August.
Last month, a new Tourism Vision for London was announced, which projects that by 2025 more than 3.3 million US visitors a year could travel to London (up from 2.32 million in 2016), cementing America’s position as London’s most important market for international tourism.
Other fast-growing markets for visitors to London by 2025 are China (+10% growth), India (+90%), and the UAE (+43%).
London & Partners Acting Chief Executive Officer Andrew Cooke said: “It is fantastic news that growing numbers of people are opting to visit London to sample the best of our capital. London is open to the world and has an appeal that clearly extends across the globe with its cultural, sporting and historical attractions.
“North America is our most important market for tourism by a long way and we look forward to welcoming many more visitors from there and beyond in the months to come.”
A number of events took place in Q2 which contributed to attract a record number of tourists, according to the agency. They include the David Hockney exhibition at the Tate Britain, Wolfgang Tillmans at the Tate Modern, the Tall Ships Festival in Greenwich, the World Cup of Gymnastics at The O2, the Joshua versus Klitschko boxing fight at Wembley Stadium, the men’s hockey World League semi-final at the Hockey and Tennis Centre in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and the Oxford Cambridge Boat Race.
London’s tourism industry is worth 11.6% of the capital’s GDP and 9% across the UK as a whole. The sector employs 700,000 people in London – equivalent to one in seven jobs.
The Tourism Vision for London, which is backed by more than 100 industry partners and supported by the Mayor of London, also projects visitor spending to grow by almost +50% to £22 billion ($28.9 billion) a year, up from £14.9 billion/$19.6 billion (2016).