2. London was by far the most visited city in the UK by international tourists in 2022, with 16 million total visits.
It’s still 26% lower than the figure in 2019 before the Covid-19 pandemic.
3. According to Mastercard's Global Destinations City Index, London is the third most visited city worldwide with 19.2 million overseas visitors in 2023.
4. Although the number of 'staying visits' by inbound visitors to London in 2022 has risen from the 2.7 million visits in 2021, this is still lower than its pre-pandemic figures of 21.7 million in 2019.
5. In 2022, Edinburgh and Manchester followed on the ranking, with around 1.8 million and 1.2 million visits respectively.
6. London is also the leading European tourist city in terms of bed nights, with approximately 59.13 million bed nights in 2022.
12. The top five nationalities who visit London the most are rounded up by Germany, Spain, and Italy.
Italian tourists rank as the fifth largest source of tourists to London, with 1.25 million visitors in 2016.
London domestic tourism statistics
How many domestic tourists visit London?
13. Between April and December 2021, London received 14.7 million domestic overnight trips, the highest since 2011.
14. From 11.09 million in 2011, the number of domestic overnight trips to London has consistently increased over the decade.
15. Meanwhile, in 2019, a total of 28.48 million nights were spent in London by domestic tourists.
From 20011 to 2019, domestic tourists to London have been spending an overall increasing number of nights.
16. This figures is forecast to continue increasing until it reaches 33.2 million total nights spent by domestic visitors in 2031.
17. From April to December 2021, domestic overnight tourists in London spent a total of 3.5 billion British pounds.
Economic contribution of tourism in London
What percentage of London is tourism?
18. In terms of international tourism spending, London is the leading city in the UK, recording 14.1 billion British pounds in inbound travel expenditure in 2022.
This is still around 10% lower than expenditure in 2019.
19. Out of the 14.1 million of international tourism expenditure, roughly half, or 7 billion GBP, was contributed by trips for holiday purposes.
20. 12% of London’s GDP is from tourism.
21. The tourism industry in London supports roughly 1 in 7 jobs.
22. Between 2023 and 2031, international visitor expenditure in London is forecast to increase by 17%.
23. In 2023 and 2031, international tourist expenditure in London is predicted to reach 14.1 billion GBP and 16.6 billion by 2031.
24. Inbound tourism spending in London accounted for 60% of the total UK tourism spending, reaching a record £3.356 billion in Q1 2023, 7% higher than the figures in Q1 2019 (and 102% above Q1 2022).
25. Travel and tourism contributed, directly and indirectly, to 3.64 million jobs in the UK in 2022.
26. In London specifically, as of March 2021, there were 383,000 employments in the food and accommodation sector.
The tourism sector is a non-conventional sector in the ONS statistics and thus difficult to measure. However, it is estimated that there are 383 thousand jobs in the accommodation and food sector in London in March 2021.
This was a 75,900 or 17% decrease compared to March 2020.
Note that not all of the establishments in this sector are directly related to tourism.
27. International business tourists in London spent £440 thousand million, a drop of 89% from 2019.
Accommodation in London statistics
28. Occupancy rates of London hotels are predicted to reach 70% in 2023 after plummeting due to the Covid-19 pandemic to 37% in 2020 and 46.1% in 2021.
32. 244 hotel rooms in London were also listed on Airbnb.
33. Meanwhile, 39.6% of all Airbnb listings in London were for private rooms.
34. In January 2022, an overnight stay in a double room in London cost an average of €166.
London tourist attractions statistics
What is the number one attraction in London?
35. The most visited tourist attraction in London in 2022 was the Natural History Museum, with 4.7 million visitors that year.
Museums play an important role in the UK’s cultural sector, with the UK and Ireland ranking ninth as the countries with the highest number of museums in 2021.
36. The British Museum and the Tate Modern was the second and third most visited tourist attraction in the British capital, receiving 4.1 million and 3.9 million visits respectively.
37. The three most popular attractions in London also happen to be the most popular free attractions in London. They’re followed by the National Gallery, Victoria and Albert Museum, Somerset House, Science Museum, and more.
38. Meanwhile, the most popular paid attraction in London is the Tower of London, receiving 2.02 million visitors in 2022.
39. The Royal Botanic Gardens (Kew Gardens) is the second most visited paid attraction in London, with 1.96 million visitors in 2022.
40. It’s followed by St Paul's Cathedral (1.19 million visits), Westminster Abbey (1.06 million visits), ZSL London Zoo (1.05 million visits), and Royal Academy of Arts (696 thousand visits).
41. Buckingham Palace, the official London residence of the UK's sovereigns, is the third most popular Royal Estate locations in the UK in 2022/2023 with 304 thousand admissions.
It was in second place in 2019/2020 but was overtaken by the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh (329 thousand admissions in 2022/2023).
42. Meanwhile, The Queen's Gallery in London sits in fourth place with 97 thousand admissions in 2022/2023.
London travel motivation
Why do people visit London?
43. As of March 2023, London was the most visited city by digital nomads, receiving 2.4% of all trips by digital nomads.
2.4% of trips made by digital nomads are to London, according to a survey in March 2023.
44. In May 2023, London was the third most popular travel destination based on number of views on TikTok, with 73 billion TikTok views.
London was just behind Dubai (140.4 billion) and New York (102 billion).
45. The main reason for inbound international tourism in London is holiday (11.1 million visits in 2019), followed by visiting friends and family (5.2 million in 2019).
46. In 2019, there were 3.98 million visits to London by international business visitors. This dropped to roughly 440,000 in 2021, before rising to 2.4 million in 2022.
Business tourism contributes to the total tourism in London, with 3.98 million visits for business purposes in 2019. However, the pandemic had caused the number of business visits to drop to only 440 thousand in 2021.
47. In 2022, holiday is still the main purpose of visit to London for overseas tourists (8.04 million visits).
48. London is one of the most expensive cities for business travel in the world, with the average daily travel expense being $559 in Q4 2022.
This is compared to the world’s most expensive city for business tourism, New York, costing $645 daily on average.
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I'm an Economics graduate with a passion for travel. In 2016 I decided to ditch the office environment, work from my laptop and travel to every country in the world. You'll find me working out of a cafe in Bali, perhaps on a riverboat in Brazil or maybe even an airport lounge in New Delhi.
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