Report: London Sees Visitor Increase in 2011; Estimates More for 2012

Great news from London: The latest figures from the International Passenger Survey (IPS) indicate that the city is seeing a strong increase in both visitors and spending over 2011 and 2010.
Consistent with the rise seen in 2010, the overall annual visits recorded were up year on year by 3.5 percent to 15.2 million, slightly more than the overall UK visits which increased by 2.9 percent. This was just shy of the record 2006 visitor figures, showing strong signs of returning to something close to pre-recession levels.
Visitor expenditure was significantly increased by more than 7 percent to a record breaking $15 billion for the full year. Business visitors were a significant source of these higher receipts, seeing 16 percent growth from the previous year.
The trend for business visitors was consistently up throughout the year, yielding an annual growth rate of a very healthy 7 percent. In particular, the US market gave a large contribution to the overall performance of the sector as the volume of US business visitors increased by 15 percent in quarter 4.
The US leisure market was particularly positive, with visitors for the full year up 6 percent. The visiting friends and relatives (VFR) segment (up 6 percent) continued to recoup some of the major losses seen during the recession.
Major events such as the Royal Wedding in April were a strong draw for leisure visitors. Sporting events also saw thousands come to London for the UEFA Champions League Final in May, and a series of test events including the World Badminton Championships appealed to both domestic and overseas visitors.
Major exhibitions also brought visitors to the capital, including Leonardo Da Vinci at the National Gallery, Fabergé Eggs and Kate Middleton’s wedding dress at Buckingham Palace, and the Glamour of the Gods at the National Portrait Gallery.
London’s business tourism offer was also boosted in 2011 by an array of new hotels and meeting spaces. Hotels such as Starwood’s Aloft (situated by London’s ICC ExCeL London), St Ermin’s hotel, the Corinthia hotel London and Marriot’s St. Pancras Renaissance London hotel all opened last year.
The latest figures from IPS come as London & Partners has, for the first time, forecast figures for the next five years. The new figures from Oxford Economics indicate that 12.7 million overnight leisure visitors, both overseas and domestic, are expected to come and stay in London during 2012. The predictions until 2015 are equally positive, and predicted to grow by a total of 11 percent from 2013-15, resulting in around 14.1 leisure visitors coming to the capital in 2015.

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