Millions of UK tourists and business visitors flocked to London last year and dug even deeper into their pockets, according to data.
Overall annual visits by UK bound travellers to the capital went up by 3.5 per cent year-on-year to 15.2 million in 2011, figures from the International Passenger Survey showed.
UK tourist expenditure rose by more than seven per cent to hit a record-breaking £9.36bn for the full year, while business visitors spent 16 per cent more than they did in 2010.
The number of visitors to London coming in from the US went up by 15 per cent in the fourth quarter to help boost overall business tourism by seven per cent across the whole year.
Americans also helped the capital’s leisure market with visits for the full year up by six per cent, while these tourists also spent six per cent more.
A series of major events helped massage London’s tourism figures, such as April’s royal wedding which attracted more than a million people to the capital’s streets. The UEFA Champions League Final at Wembley in May will also draw in big crowds.
New hotels such as the Starwood’s Aloft, the Corinthia Hotel London and Marriot’s St Pancras Renaissance London hotel strengthened London’s appeal to business tourists.
The same market could also be drawn to host events at one of London’s quirky corporate hospitality venues, including the Lee Valley White Water Centre.
About 12.7 million overnight leisure visitors are expected to come to London during 2012, according to London & Partners’ forecast using figures from Oxford Economics.
The predictions for the next few years are also positive, with visitor numbers set to grow by 11 per cent from 2013-15 to reach 14.1 million leisure visitors in 2015.
Olympic host cities cannot always expect to feel the benefits of the Games immediately, but Association of Leading Visitor Attractions director Bernard Donoghue believes London could be an exception to the rule.
Donoghue said: “All of the advice we have received from national tourist boards indicate that typically Olympic host cities receive fewer visitors in an Olympic year than in a normal year.
“Their advice to attractions is not to think you will get huge visitor numbers this year, but as a result of the publicity the Games generate, you will see increases in the next few years.
“However, London is not like a typical host city, so our members in London like the National Gallery, the British Museum and the Tate will be doing blockbuster exhibitions this year anyway. They will appeal to both international and domestic visitors.
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