London sees record number of foreign tourists

LONDON - London received a record number of foreign visitors in 2014, with 17.4 million tourists flooding into the British capital, according a survey by the national statistics office.

The figures found a 3.5 per cent increase from 2013, which was also a record year, according to the Office for National Statistics International Passenger Survey.

"The city proved to be one of the world's biggest tourist magnets," the city's promoters, London & Partners, said Wednesday.

The MasterCard global destination cities index for last year rated the British capital as the top city destination for tourists, followed by Bangkok and Paris.

London & Partners said events like an exhibition of the work of French artist Henri Matisse at gallery the Tate Modern, the Tour De France Grand Depart cycling event and the Wimbledon Tennis Championships added to the city's appeal.

The growth in visitors is a continuation of a trend begun in 2012, when London hosted the Summer Olympics.

Tourists injected £11.8 billion (S$24.5 billion) into the British capital's economy last year, a 3 per cent rise from 2013, according to London & Partners.

"These terrific new figures confirm that record numbers of tourists are spending record amounts of dosh in our amazing city," London mayor Boris Johnson said in a statement.

"With incredible attractions like the Rugby World Cup heading our way, we look forward to welcoming many thousands more visitors to London."