On the heels of the 2012 Olympic Games, which it hosted, London has set a new tourism record, welcoming 16.8 million international visitors in 2013, London & Partners, the city's official destination marketing organization, announced last week.
According to the Office for National Statistics' International Passenger Survey, international visitation was up 9 percent from 2012. Spending likewise was up, with international visitors spending a record £11.2 billion on shopping, hotels, restaurants and attractions, up by over £1 billion from 2012.
"London is continuing to build on its success and is offering world-class exhibitions and attractions that people are prepared to travel from all corners of the globe to see," Kit Malthouse, chairman of London & Partners, said in a statement. "From spectacular river festivals to exhibitions showcasing the world's greatest artists, to the world's most famous fictional detective, the city offers something for everyone, young and old."
Among London's 16.8 million international visitors, 2.3 million were from North America, accounting for almost 14 percent of all international visits and representing a 2.7 percent increase compared to 2012.
London wasn't the only British city to experience a surge in international visitation. In fact, Great Britain as a whole welcomed nearly 33 million visitors who spent £21 billion, up 6 percent and 13 percent, respectively, from 2012.
"These record-breaking figures are a tribute to the outstanding mix of culture, art, music and sport to be found here and more is planned," said London Mayor Boris Johnson. "With major international sporting events including the Rugby World Cup and the Tour de France and spectacular exhibitions at the Tate and the British Museum this year, it is clear that this wonderful city will not rest on its laurels."