London v Paris: The head-to-head is on

A French deputy mayor has called London "a suburb of Paris" days after the UK's capital was named more popular a destination than Paris.

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Owner of London attractions to float

The London Eye on the Southbank, which is owned by Merlin Entertainments Credit: Reuters

The company which owns many of top tourist attractions has announced plans to float on the stock market.

Merlin Entertainments, which owns the London Eye, Madame Tussads and legoland is believed to be worth as much as 3 billion pounds.

The public will be able to buy shares in the company, which will enable it to pay down debt and plan for future development.

The company generated revenues of more than £1 billion last year and is Europe's leading visitor attraction operator and the second largest globally after Walt Disney.

'Palpable buzz' of London attracting record numbers

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: "Last summer the palpable buzz of this great city was beamed across the globe. Since then London's draw has gone from strength to strength with billions of pounds of international investment and huge regeneration projects continuing apace.

"These fantastic tourism figures not only support new jobs and growth in London's economy but are yet another testament to the Olympic legacy."

Olympic rings seen during the Olympic Opening Ceremony
Olympic rings seen during the Olympic Opening Ceremony Credit: Press Association

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Record number of London tourists

New figures show a record number of visitors to London so far this year. 7.9 million flocked to the capital in the first six months of 2013, a 7.7% boost on the same period last year.

The figures from the latest International Passenger Survey also reveal 12 times as many tourists visited London as the next most popular UK city, Edinburgh.

The capital's skyline
The capital's skyline Credit: John Walton/EMPICS Sport

London is favourite European city

London was voted best European city in an Ipsos Mori poll Credit: Johnny Green/PA Wire

London is beaten only by New York as the world's favourite city, according to a worldwide survey.

The capital was also voted the top European city in a poll of people from 24 countries by Ipsos Mori.

London was second to New York in the favourite city category Credit: Yui Mok/PA Wire

Of the 48 cities which people were asked to judge, London and New York were the only two to make the top five in each of the categories in the survey.

London was second to New York in the favourite city category, while the UK was third in the best-place-to-live category,

Ipsos Mori chief executive Pen Page said: "The citizens of the world have spoken and given a massive vote of confidence in London and the UK.

"Together with positive signs for the UK economy and London generally, and after a brilliant Olympics in 2012, this survey reaffirms London as not only the most important city in Europe, but also affirms Britain continuing to punch above its weight globally."

London is UK's top city for tourists

Tower Bridge
Tower Bridge in the summer Credit: Robert Knight/Eye Ubiquitous/Press Association Images

London accounted for more than half the visits overseas tourists made to the UK last year, according to latest figures.

15 and a half million visitors ventured to the capital in 2012, statistics from VisitBritain showed.

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Images: The View From The Shard

The viewing platforms on the Shard will be open to the public from the 1st of February 2013.

Although visitors can't go right to the top of the 310m building, they can reach the 72nd floor, which stands at 244m.

The viewing galleries stand 244m (800ft) above the capital. Credit: © The View from The Shard.
Visitors will be offered a unique 360 degree panoramic view. Credit: © The View from The Shard.
It will take only 30 seconds for visitors to reach the viewing platform by lift. Credit: © The View from The Shard.
Special digital telescopes will be provided in the viewing area. Credit: © The View from The Shard.
The interactive machines will provide nuggets of information about the history of London's skyline. Credit: © The View from The Shard.
The telescopes have large touch screens, which can identify landmarks. Credit: © The View from The Shard.
The Shard is the tallest building in Western Europe. Credit: © The View from The Shard.

Shard attraction to open next February

The first details about a new tourist attraction at the top of The Shard - the tallest skyscraper in Western Europe - have been unveiled.

The View from The Shard takes people on a journey to 244m (800ft) above London, almost twice as high as any other viewing point in the city, and will offer a 64km (40 mile), 360-degree panoramic view over the capital.

Watch the promotional video from The View From The Shard below.

Tourism still struggling during Olympics

Shaftesbury Ave
Theatres on Shaftesbury Avenue in London. Credit: PA

London's tourism industry is struggling to compete with the impact of the Olympic Games, which has left the host city a "ghost town", businesses said.

Many traditional tourist hotspots have reported a fall in ticket sales as visitors flock to Olympic venues across the capital.

Theatre companies said they were seeing a "mixed picture" with many companies struggling due to the lack of footfall in the West End.

Mark Rubinstein, president of the Society of London Theatre, said: "Normally tourists will visit central London but they are mostly here to see the Games.

The message about travel problems also seems to have kept people away.

"My experience is things are running smoothly and people should not be put off.

"There is a great opportunity to get out there to see some fantastic shows."

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