London: Indians are the second largest tourists to visit London last year, edging out the Japanese and reflecting the scale of burgeoning economy and growing middle-class incomes.
Indian tourists spent 139 million pounds (Rs1,128 crore) last year — up from 107 million pounds a year earlier and 78 million in 2003. About 212,000 Indians visited London last year, up from 130,000 in 2003, a survey found.
In contrast, Japanese tourists — regarded as part of the scenery at the capital’s tourist attractions — are in decline. Some 230,000 Japanese nationals visited London last year, spending a total of 123 million pounds, compared with 434,000 who came to London in 2000, the Visit London’s international passenger survey said.
The United States remains the single-most important country for London tourism, which is significant to the health of businesses in the British capital ranging from hotels to transport and retail.
Americans account for 16% of all overseas visitors to the city. There were 2.4 million US tourist visits last year worth 1.5 billion pounds, the survey said.
The numbers have yet to return to pre-9/11 levels. In 2000 more than 2.9 million Americans visited London, spending more than 1.7 billion pounds, it added.
Record numbers of overseas tourists visited London in 2006, whereas more than 15 million, representing a 9.4% growth, in 2005. They spent 7.5 billion pounds, it said.
However, the Visit London survey expects a slowdown this year. “Lower US growth combined with the strength of sterling is likely to dampen overall visitor growth in 2007,” it warned.
It is estimating growth in spending by tourists of 4% this year, down from more than 9% last year.
Visitor figures from France, Germany, Spain and Italy have also climbed since 2000. Together, they accounted for more than 30 per cent of overseas visitors to the capital last year, it said.
The number of tourists from Poland has shown the biggest growth, climbing from 80,000 visits seven years ago to 500,000 in 2006, the survey revealed.
Visit London also showed that last August’s airport security alerts had little impact on tourist inflow.