London has topped the list as the destination of choice for international travellers for the third time in four years, according to the annual MasterCard Global Destinations Cities Index released today.
Now in its fourth year, the index, which uses data from 132 of the most travelled cities from around the world, reveals London is projected to receive 18.7 million international visitors in 2014.
This is 300,000 more visitors than the 2013 top destination city, Bangkok.
This translates into an injection of over £11 billion for the capital in 2014.
Bangkok itself slipped to second, after political unrest in the country discouraged international visitors.
The report also reveals that London has retained its top rank position from 2013 in relation to the amount that visitors spend which is estimated to be an average of £1,387 per resident in 2014.
Bangkok, Paris and Singapore follow; with the former seeing visitor spending reach just £7.6 billion despite its 18.37 million visitors.
Put simply, more people are visiting London and spending more in the capital than in any other city in the world.
Ann Cairns, president of International Markets, MasterCard, presents the report in London
London mayor Boris Johnson said: “With nearly nineteen million visitors this year London is the world’s favourite place to visit.
“Our city perfectly combines history, heritage, arts and culture, not to mention vast amounts of green space and major events that are the envy of the planet.”
In 2013, according to the Office of National Statistics International Passenger Survey, London welcomed over 16 million international visitors in one year for the first time in history.
Tourists from around the globe flocked to the city in ever increasing numbers to attend world class exhibitions, visit amazing royal palaces, dine at Michelin starred restaurants, and watch world class sporting events.
Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted and London City airports also offer unrivalled international connections to the capital – making it one of the most connect places anywhere on earth.
Dubai rounds out the top five cities, which are benefiting from a surge in international travel fuelled by an expanding middle class, innovations in luxury travel and rising need for business travel.
Report author Dr. Yuwa Hedrick-Wong discusses the findings
“The Index points to a continued strong demand and interest in air travel, both for business and personal travel,” said Ann Cairns, president of International Markets, MasterCard.
“The recognition of this year’s top international destinations reinforces the continued importance of cities as business, cultural and economic hubs.
“For London in particular, being recognised once again for its place as the top destination will further boost this city’s ability to continue to be a global leader, whether through hosting events that shine a spotlight on this city and draw in further investment, or inspiring those within to drive economic growth.”
The report demonstrates how, more than ever, visitors to London are driving spending in the capital.
This presents a huge opportunity for London businesses to take advantage of international spending growth by providing a fast, safe and innovative payment experience to continue to make London the destination of choice for tourists.
Marion King, president, MasterCard UK&I, added: “As London retains its top spot for both visitor spending and international visitors, there is a huge opportunity for retailers which need to keep pace with consumer demand for new, innovative and safe ways to shop.
“In order for the upward trend in visitor spending to continue, the UK needs to transform the day-to-day shopping experience for consumers - providing shoppers with more choice and offering a fast, safe and convenient way to pay via any device.”