London saw an increase of 2% in the numbers of visitors to the capital in 2008, according to official figures from Visit London which co-incide with the start of the ‘Only in London’ tourism campaign.
The increase in the number of people was matched by a 1% increase in spending, up to £10.5bn. The numbers were boosted by an 11.5% annual increase in visitors from other parts of the UK. Visit London says domestic visitors increased spending by 7% to £2.4bn.
Despite the positive news the number of international visitors to London fell by 3.6% with figures showing a steep decline in some markets in the last quarter due to the economic downturn.
It is hoped that the ‘Only in London’ campaign, is designed to highlight the “truly unique experiences” which London has to offer, will help the capital increase visitor numbers despite the current recession.
Mayor of London Boris Johnson said the recorded rise in visitors was “excellent news” which “shows that London is weathering the downturn well and our investment in marketing our great city at home and abroad is paying off.”
The Mayor added: “I am extremely confident our latest, innovative campaign will reap further rewards as tourists realise London has such a great variety of things to do, to see, and to visit and because of the favourable exchange rate it’s unbeatable value too.”
‘Only in London’ is being funded by the boroughs and Mayor and will include print, radio and digital promotional activity.
Visit London’s figures show a mixed picture. Spending by four of London’s top six European markets was strong with Italy (+33%), France (+9%), Germany (+8%) and the Netherlands (+5%) showing growth.
However spending from Irish visitors remained flat whilst Spanish visitors declined in both volume (-7%) and value (-5%) and visits and spending from the USA – London’s number one international market – were down by -18% and -15% respectively.
Visit London’s Chief Executive Sally Chatterjee commented: “London’s visitor figures have remained steady despite a dip towards the end of last year; however, it is more important than ever that we continue to promote London to both domestic and international audiences. We believe the ‘Only in London’ campaign will keep London at the forefront by promoting the great one-of-a-kind experiences that make London one of the most unique cities in the world.”