Record-breaking number of tourists in London in 2013

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Media caption,
Tourists spent more than £11bn

A record number of tourists visited the UK capital last year, according to official figures.

Data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed London had 16.8 million visitors in 2013, an increase of 1.3 million from 2012.

The rise was the highest recorded number of overseas visitors since records began in 1961.

Mayor of London Boris Johnson said the capital's diversity was a key to the success.

"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," he said.

He added that with international sporting events and exhibitions, "this wonderful city will not rest on its laurels".

Overseas spending

According to the International Passenger Survey, London's previous best year was 2006 when the city welcomed 15.6 million people.

The majority of visitors were from North America last year, followed by tourists from France and Germany.

Overseas visitors spent an estimated £11.2bn in 2013, with tourists from the US spending the most.

Image source, PA
Image caption,
London's previous best year was 2006, when 15.6 million visited the city
Image caption,
The British Museum was one of the most popular attractions with 6.7 million visitors

However, the average spend-per-customer was higher for visitors from United Arab Emirates and countries in Central and South America, Asia and the Middle East.

Over the last 10 years, the number of people taking holidays in the capital also rose from 4.9 million in 2003 to 8.5 million in 2013.

The ONS said the amount of money spent by tourists in London had doubled since 2003.

Last year also saw the highest number of visits to the UK since 1961. Overseas residents made 5.6% more visits to the UK in 2013 compared with 2012, reaching a record high of more than 32 million visits.

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