TRAVEL GAZETTE – The number of tourists visiting London has reached record levels, the city’s tourist authority said on Friday.
The total number of tourists visiting the British capital reached 31.5 million people in 2015, an increase of 20 percent over five years.
Figures released by the Office for National Statistics’ International Passenger Survey, show there were 18.6 million international visits in 2015 compared to 17.4 million in 2014, a previous record year.
In addition, separate data from the Great Britain Tourism Survey carried out by British tourism body VisitEngland reveals that domestic tourists made 12.9 million visits to the city last year, another new record.
The newly-elected Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan said in a statement that the city “has something for everyone and an appeal that clearly extends across the globe”.
A separate research by independent economics forecaster Oxford Economics predicts that London will welcome 35.6 million visits to the city by 2020 from both domestic and foreign tourists.
The tourism industry is a major contributor to the city’s economy. The sector contributes more than 36 billion pounds (52.2 billion U.S. dollars) to the capital’s economy every year and supports around 700,000 jobs.
Gordon Innes, chief executive of London & Partners, the London Mayor’s London promotional organization said: “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.”
This year figures are expected to be boosted by the 90th birthday of Queen Elizabeth II, the 400th anniversary of playwright William Shakespeare’s death — which has been marked with many productions of his plays, special events and many exhibitions at museums, galleries and theaters in the city.