Overseas visitor numbers are at a record high, with around 30 million tourists arriving last year - an 8% rise over 2004.
Spending was also up 9% according to the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics, with visitors shelling out £14.2b.
The majority of this growth came from the rest of the world region (including China, India, Eastern European and South-east Asian countries), with visits up by 18% to 6.4 million.
While corporate business is boosting visitor levels to London, with activity within the square mile particularly healthy, the UK as a whole is distinctly patchy, he said.
"Hoteliers are seeing a lot of oversees corporate business, but we are finding that is a distinctly London trend - even a central London trend. When you go outside the capital, it is just OK, not disastrous, but not that great either," said Cotton.
Another major challenge facing the industry is increasing average length of stay, which dropped from 11.5 days in 1985 to 8.5 nights in 2004, according to BHA figures. Spend per visitor also dropped from £700 to £450.
By Matthew Batham