London holds on to 'must-see city' top spot

Sites such as London's Trafalgar Square continue to draw tourists. Photo: Press Association

London has held onto its reputation as one of the world's must-see cities. With 16.7 million visits by foreign residents involving a stay of at least one night in 2013, the city is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. Julie Chappell, director of visitlondon.com the city's official tourist guide, said:

London is the UK's biggest magnet for international visitors and the major draw card for tourists. The city is the only UK tourism market which has consistently grown above inflation and nearly two-thirds of all holiday visitors to Britain come to London.

– Julie Chappell

The figures released by VisitBritain created a British top-20 of towns and cities for tourists, with London in first position. Edinburgh came second and Manchester in third. While here, the tourists spent a lot of money, a record £21.01 billion in 2012, an increase of 12.7%. Almost 13 million came here for a holiday, while just under 8 million travelled for business and a further 9.3 million came to visit family and friends. London represented just over half of all visits to the UK and 53.6% of all tourism spending in the UK.

"London is the global superstar of tourism destinations, a city that all around the world people want to visit," says VisitBritain strategy director Patricia Yates.

"Because of this, we need to make sure we are inspiring them on the Britain-wide offering and informing on how easy it is to travel across the country in such a short space of time. We need to encourage people to come back time after time, which in turn will mean our visitors venture out across Britain."

DESTINATION VISITS 1. London 16.7 million 2. Edinburgh 1.30 million 3. Manchester 988,000 4. Birmingham 941,000 5. Liverpool 562,000 6. Glasgow 515,000 7. Oxford 456,000 8. Bristol 428,000 9. Brighton and Hove 409,000 10. Cambridge 404,000 11. Leeds 299,000 12. Cardiff 297,000 13. Bath 283,000 14. York 271,000 15. Nottingham 247,000 16. Aberdeen 241,000 17. Inverness 226,000 18. Southampton 221,000 19. Newcastle-upon-Tyne 201,000 20. Reading 193,000