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London welcomes over 30 mn tourists for the first time ever

Saturday, May 21, 2016,12:39 IST By Metrovaartha A A A

London | London has set a new tourism record as over 30 million visitors flocked to the British capital, mostly drawn by global sporting events like the Rugby World Cup and blockbuster exhibitions at its museums and galleries.

Its new Mayor Sadiq Khan welcomed the new figures released today, saying it was fantastic that more people than ever before were visiting the city of over 8 million residents. London has something for everyone and an appeal that clearly extends across the globe. I’ve pledged to do all I can to support our vital tourism industry so London continues to be a top choice for travellers, the 45-year-old Khan said.

A record 31.5 million Great Britain residents and international tourists came to the city in 2015 – which is an increase of 20 per cent when compared to five years ago, the figures releasedby the Office for National Statistics, International Passenger Survey, showed.

Every year since the 2012 London Olympic and Paralympic Games, there has been an increase in international visitors coming to the city. There were 18.6 million international visits in 2015 compared to 17.4 million in 2014, an increase of 7 per cent. Separate data from the Great Britain Tourism Survey carried out by UK tourism body VisitEngland showed that Great Britain residents made 12.9 million visits to London last year, another new record.

International and Great Britain visitors also spent 15 billion pounds on hotels, restaurants, shopping and attractions – an increase of 35 per cent compared to 2010. Exhibitions, theatre and major events at museums and the 2015 Rugby World Cup all helped draw visitors to the city.

This year is set to be another momentous year as the UK celebrates 400 years of Shakespeare’s lasting legacy, events to mark the Queen’s 90th birthday and Tate Modern opening a major new extension, which is being hailed as the most important new cultural building in the UK since the British Library in 1998.

Bernard Donoghue, Director of the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions said: Our palaces, cathedrals, museums, galleries, heritage sites, zoos and gardens are some of the principal reasons why record numbers of visitors come to London.

Separate research by independent forecaster Oxford Economics predicts that London will welcome 35.6 million UK and international visits to the city by 2020. The tourism industry is a major contributor to the London economy. Overall the sector contributes more than 36 billion pounds to the capital every year and supports around 700,000 thousand jobs.

Tourism is a crucial part of the city’s economy and we anticipate a significant increase in the number of UK and international visitors for many years to come, said Gordon Innes, CEO of London & Partners, the Mayor’s official promotional company for London.