Record year as 19 million tourists visit London

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Record year as 19 million tourists visit London

The number of foreign visitors to London has smashed through the 19 million mark for the first time in another record year for tourism.

The total number of visits rose 2.6 per cent from 18.6 million to 19.1 million with a particularly strong 8 per cent surge in the final three months of 2016, according to official data from the Office for National Statistics.

Tourism bosses said the fall in the value of the pounds after the Brexit referendum in June had helped make the capital an even more attractive destination for visitors.

However, spending on hotels, restaurants and attractions was slightly down over the year at £11.9 billion, although it was up in the last quarter.

Numbers have risen steadily since the Olympics and Paralympics of 2012 gave London an unprecedented “shop window” to the rest of the world. Annual visits are now 25 per cent higher than five years ago.

Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan said: “I am delighted that more people than ever before are choosing to visit London, immersing themselves in all that our great city has to offer including an unbeatable array of restaurants, museums, shops and theatres.

“This is further evidence that London is Open and has an appeal that clearly extends across the globe.”

Major events that boosted tourism numbers last year included Great Fire 350, which saw thousands of people lining the River Thames to see the burning of a replica City of London.

Also popular among visitors were blockbuster exhibitions such as David Hockney at the Royal Academy, and EXHIBITIONISM at the Saatchi Gallery; the first retrospective of the Rolling Stones life and career.

Many museums also saw record numbers of visitors. Joanna Mackle, Deputy Director of the British Museum, said: “The British Museum is delighted to be the most visited attraction in the UK for the 10th year running.

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