Record tourist numbers boost London's economy by £600 million

According to the latest figures from the International Passenger Survey overseas visits to London last year grew by 9.4 per cent bringing the total to a record 15.2 million. This increase also helped to drive record spending – which rose from £6.9 billion in the previous year to £7.5 billion in 2005.

The figures mean London's global share of international tourism rose from 1.7% to 1.8%.

The largest increase in visitor numbers came from Europe, up 11.6% to 9.6 million, followed by the United State s, up 5.2% to 2.4 million.

Despite a weakening American dollar, spending by US visitors has risen to £1.5 billion, the highest it's been since 2000.

Welcoming the latest figures, Visit London Chief Executive James Bidwell said: 'London remains the number one city destination in the world and the latest visitor numbers confirm this. Importantly, we have increased our worldwide share of international visitor numbers. Tourism is worth around £15 billion a year to the London economy and sustained increases over time result in an increase in the number of jobs created for the economy. This is particularly encouraging in the lead up to 2012 when the tourism and cultural industries will be amongst the main economic beneficiaries from the Games.'

Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone said: 'Record tourist numbers show the impact of London's profile on the world stage. Visit London has also become one of most professional marketing organisations in the world delivering huge benefits to the city. There are major new sporting events coming to London this year, such as the start of the Tour de France and the first competitive NFL American football game played outside the American Continent. This year also sees the opening of Western Europe's largest entertainment arena at The O2 as well as the proven continued pulling power of the most diverse and interesting cultural attractions in the world. I shall continue to put major resources in the promotion of London in the run up to the Olympic and Paralympic Games as this translates directly into jobs and incomes for Londoners.'

Visit London has just launched its latest campaign in North America featuring radio, online, advertorials and PR. This week will also see five US radio stations broadcasting live from the London Eye.