The year 2017 marked the eighth consecutive year of international growth in the tourism sector worldwide, after the crisis in the years 2008-2009. The number of foreign tourists grew to over 1,3 billion in 2017, an increase of no less than 7% compared to 2016 (UNWTO).
Tourism in Europe also experienced an exceptional year in 2017. With an 8% growth compared to 2016, the international average was even better scored. In total there were 538 million international arrivals, accounting for 40% of the global total. In Europe, tourism accounts for 10% of GDP and the sector creates jobs for 26 million people.
London is the most important tourist destination in Europe. In 2017, the total number of international visitors to London almost totaled 20 million (19,8 million visitors). This figure is up 4% when compared to 2016. Total nights spent by international tourists in the capital equaled 114 million, with a total spend of £13,5 billion.
The worldwide growth of tourism also has its consequences on the economic significance of this sector. The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and the World Trade Organization (WTO) estimate revenues from international travel at £1.138 billion. In 2017, tourism accounted for 30% of the worldwide export of services and 7% of the total export value. This makes tourism the third export product worldwide, after fuel (oil, gas) and chemical products.
The direct contribution of Travel & Tourism to GDP in London was £12,3 (1,9% of total GDP) in 2016. Travel & Tourism directly supported 227.900 jobs (2,5% of total employment in London).
The mayor of London Sadiq Khan recently unveiled his new vision for London tourism. Visits to the capital by 2025 are projected to attract 40,4 million international and domestic visits annually – 30% more than in 2016, spending £22 in the capital. Over 100 of the capital’s tourism businesses, including Gatwick Airport, Hilton, Merlin Entertainments and Airbnb as well as leading industry associations such as the Association of Leading Visitor Attraction and the British Hospitality Association, backed the new tourism vision.