Stats: London Top City for Visitor Spending in Europe

A birds eye view of London and the River Thames
Photo by Mark_Thomas_Photo/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

London generates more spend from international visitors than any other city in Europe, according to a new report by the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC).

In 2016, international visitors spent in the region of £11.2billion (€18.9billion) in London, more than in any other city in Europe. Visitors from within the UK spent a further £1.74 billion (€2.94bn). Overall, the travel and tourism industry directly employs 228,000 jobs in the capital and in terms of the industry’s GDP contribution, London accounts for nearly 19 percent of the UK’s total.

Other cities which make up the top five for international spend in Europe are Istanbul (€17.5bn), Barcelona (€13.6bn), Amsterdam (€11.8bn) and Paris (€10.4bn).


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Europe City Travel & Tourism Impact is one of a series of reports by WTTC which looks at the contribution of travel and tourism to city economies and job creation. The study covers 65 cities, 17 of which are in Europe. The report launch coincides with the opening of World Travel Market at London’s Excel center.

“London is a truly international city and the London is Open campaign has given a very strong message of welcome to tourists from abroad,” said WTTC President and CEO Gloria Guevara in a written release. “Uncertainty around Brexit and the impacts of terrorism will put pressure on the city’s tourism sector in 2017, however our data suggests that London is well placed to be resilient against these challenges. We expect international tourism spend to increase by 7 percent every year over the next ten years.”

European Cities Are Resilient to Terrorism Impacts

Following attacks in January and November 2015, international arrivals to Paris decreased by 8 percentage points. However, forecasts suggest that tourism’s contribution is set to rise and return to 4 percent of the city’s GDP in the coming years, the WTTC said.

Brussels experienced a fall in international demand of 17 percentage points following the attack in March 2016, however overall the city’s travel and tourism sector grew at double the rate of Belgium’s over the past ten years (2.1 percent per year, compared to 1.1 percent for Belgium), and is forecast to continue to grow at a rate of 7.3 percent per year over the next decade.

Antalya and Istanbul, both impacted by terrorism and political instability in Turkey, are expected to grow at 8.6 percent and 9.8 percent over the next ten years, faster than any other European cities.

Cities’ Contribution to Europe’s Travel and Tourism Sector Set to Increase Over Next 10 Years

The report highlights the overall importance of cities for Europe’s travel and tourism sector. The 17 cities studied account for 18 percent of the region’s total, rising to 25 percent by 2026. Three of the cities – Prague, Dublin and Brussels – generate more than 50 percent of their country’s travel and tourism GDP; and a further seven generate more than 25 percent (Warsaw, Stockholm, Lisbon, Amsterdam, Istanbul, Paris and Moscow).

The research also quantifies the contribution of travel and tourism to employment in these cities. In Amsterdam, 9.8 percent of employment (1 in 10 jobs) is directly generated by tourism, compared to 8.4 percent in Prague, 7 percent in Lisbon and 6.5 percent in Berlin and Munich. Across all 17 cities, travel and tourism’s proportion of employment by is set to increase over the next ten years, highlighting the growing importance of the sector as a generator of jobs. 

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