London welcomed a record number of international tourists last summer with more than 5.2 million visits between July and September, according to the latest data from the Office of National Statistics International Passenger Survey.
The increase represents a 5.9% rise in visits, compared with the same period in 2014, while the number of domestic visits to the city during the first nine months of 2015 increased by 10% year-on-year to 9.3 million.
Mayor of London Boris Johnson described London as "the best city" in the world. "We really know how to roll out the red carpet and put on a show for the millions of visitors who flock here year after year," he explained. "Only last week, Lumiere London, the city's biggest-ever light festival, gave over a million people an unforgettable experience in the West End and King's Cross.
Overall, the tourism sector contributes more than £36b to the capital and supports around 700,000 jobs.
The rise in tourist figures for London is reflected across the UK, with VisitBritain forecasting that the number of overseas visitors travelling to the UK in 2016 will increase by 3.8% to 36.7 million, spending almost £23b.
Events expected to boost visitor numbers during 2016 include the Queen's 90th birthday and the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare's death.
The British Tourist Authority (BTA) has announced the appointment of Andrew Stokes as its new interim director, England. He will take up his new post on 3 February, joining the BTA from Marketing Manchester where he has spent 14 years as chief executive. Stokes will lead the development and delivery of the new £40m Discover England Fund, announced by the government in last November's spending review.
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