Tourists are still flocking to London as one of the top destinations in Europe, helping the UK economy recover. (Photo: WikiCommons)
Like most of Europe, the economy of the United Kingdom was hit by the financial crisis in 2007. Six years later, things are starting to look up, especially in the tourism industry.
In 2012 tourism rose 4% in Great Britain, according to the Office for National Statistics. Over 31 million tourists spent time in Britain and they didn’t come just for bargain hunting.
A record £19 billion was spent in 2012, which is a four percent rise from 2011. It is likely that the London Olympics and the Diamond Jubilee played a key factor in drawing in tourists with deep pockets.
Great Britain was prepared for the flood of tourists. Patricia Yates, Director of Strategy and Communications atVisitBritain, Great Britain’s national tourism agency, commented on how they succeeded in boosting tourism.
“Our tourism strategy was clearly to use the showcasing of the Games and turn the millions who watched coverage of Britain into visitors in the months and years ahead. We have made an excellent start and will continue our work promoting Britain as a great place to visit to deliver further revenue and jobs in the United Kingdom through 2013,” said Yates.
Keith Gumery Ph. D., Director of Teaching and Learning and Professor of Creative Travel Writing class has lived in London, Philadelphia and Copenhagen. He explained how some cities like London are immune to financial crises.
“It has been an important city in the world since the late 1500s. People know about it wherever they come from in the world,” he said.
Gumery emphasized how London’s “fantastic museums, high identity, and wealth of culture” make it a top destination for any international tourist.
Tourism is the United Kingdom’s third highest grossing export behind chemicals and financial services. One in twelve jobs in the United Kingdom is currently supported by tourism, according to VisitBritian.
Last year, London’s expenditure went up to 11.2%, as visitors came to the Olympic and Paralympic Games and spent more than regular travellers.
London's economy has been helped by the 2012 Olympics and Diamond Jubilee year. (Photo: WikiCommons)
Gordon Innes, CEO of London & Partners, the mayor's promotional organization for the capital, said, "2012 was an incredible year for the capital and despite the anticipated dip in visitor numbers,” he said, “We had an incredible opportunity to showcase London to the world and we are continuing to reach out to our leisure and business audiences to grow visitor numbers in 2013 and beyond through our tourism campaign London: Now See It For Yourself".
Part of their new advertising campaign includes a promotional video featuring Rufus the Corgi travelling through London, tweeting, and encouraging viewers to follow him in the chance to win a vacation to London.
Not all travelers go to London just for the special events. Anders Larsen, the Housing & Cultural Immersion Coordinator at DIS, is planning a trip to London the week of March 22-29. He is going simply because it is one of his favorite places to be.
“London has such a rich cultural life, it is diverse in terms of people and neighborhoods, and the restaurants are amazing,” he said.
When asked if the recent Olympics or Diamond Jubilee affected his decision to see London he said, “Not at all, I actually avoided going there during those two periods.”
Larsen said that the UK’s economy also did not affect his decision to travel. He joked that, “the conversion rate may however affect how many shoes I buy.”
United Kingdom is now serving as a role model for other European countries looking to boost tourism.
Tourism is very important to Europe’s recovering economy because the sector represents 12% of European jobs.
"Today the tourism sector employs approximately 10 million people in Europe which makes it the third most important industry in general," said the Spanish Minister of Industry and Tourism, Miguel Sebastián.
Not only is the tourism industry a major employer, it is also crucial for helping all of Europe recover.