Americans back on top as London’s biggest visitors

River Tower Br ShardAmericans were London’s leading overseas visitors last year after 8 years of being outnumbered by the French.

The surge from the States helped make 2015 another record-breaking year for the capital as, predicted by Urbs.  Data from Visit Britain shows that the capital welcomed 18.5 million people from around the world for leisure, education, business and family visits.

2.1 million of those visitors, or 11.5%, came from America, narrowly beating the French, although visitor numbers from France were also slightly up on 2014. Polish visitors pushed into the top 10 for the first time in 2015.

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As well as being the largest group, Americans also spent the most. Of the £11.9 billion the city generated from tourism, nearly a tenth came from American wallets alone last year.

London’s highest spending European visitors were French, with a total spend of £762 million. But on an individual basis the big spenders are from the Gulf countries of the Middle East. While the average London visitor spent £640, those from Kuwait and Saudi Arabia spent nearly five times that amount.

The ease of a hop across the Channel or a trip through the Tunnel means the French still account for more of London’s short-stayers than anyone else. 1.2 million French people came to the city for ‘le weekend’ and a trip lasting one to three nights.

The longest stayers came from Australia – 1.57 million of them stuck around for at least two weeks following presumably long-haul journeys for most of them. Despite the Australian’s extended time here, they trail other countries closer to home on tourist numbers and expenditure, including Germany, Italy and Spain.

As home to most of the UK’s biggest tourist attractions, it is no surprise that London’s main draw for visitors continues to be as a holiday destination. Half of those who came to the city from abroad did so for leisure. Internationally, London also remains a popular destination to do business, with 20% of those coming here on work commitments.

Irish and Polish family networks around London also seem to have grown in strength in the past year. Not only did their visitor numbers increase by almost one third and one fifth respectively, but as many as 39% of Irish and Polish visitors were in the capital to see family and relatives.

Source data

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London’s Science Museum…much searched, often found

Measuring popularity by the number of Google searches has become a pretty regular metric. A quick glance at Google Trends top chart will tell you that Pharrell Williams is more popular than Benedict Cumberbatch, more of us want to make chocolate cake than carrot cake, and the thing we most want to know how to do is to draw.

The latest top 5 in the Google league tells us that museums and galleries in London are the most searched in the world. According to London & Partners, the Mayor’s official promotional company, the Google museum search list has London institutions at 1,2, and 3.

  1. Science Museum, London
  2. Natural History Museum, London
  3. British Museum, London
  4. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
  5. Smithsonian Museum, Washington DC

London and Partners caution that Google’s methodology means that the results may vary day to day and the Science Museum comes top “on average”.

Perhaps more telling therefore is not how many people search the museum name on Google but how many people come to visit.

According to London and Partners a visitor survey conducted through 15,000 face to face interviews at 13 museums and galleries by research company Morris Hargreaves McIntyre concluded that they received 17.9 million overseas visitors in 2014 and 2015 out of a total visitor number of 31.5 million. That’s 57% of visitors, and an increase of 19% over the past 4 years.

French and American tourists were the most frequent, in line with figures for London visitor numbers, as reported by Urbs. Along with people from Italy, Spain and Germany they accounted for 9.7 million of the 17.9 million overseas museum visitors, according to the survey.

Source data

See also

Good news for tourists and Londoners as city dominates for visitor attractions

French biggest group of visitors but Americans spend most

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