The campaign is launched as the latest set of tourism figures from the International Passenger Survey (IPS) show record numbers of tourists visited London last summer. For the first time in history the city is on course to welcome over 16 million overseas visitors in one year. Watch and share their ‘London Story’ at VisitLondon.com/story.
VisitLondon.com, the official city guide, has spoken to celebrities and proud Londoners about what fascinates and excites them about living in the capital and how they spend their free time. Whether it’s Gordon Ramsay’s reflections on the Royal Albert Bridge, Joanna Lumley’s love of duck ponds or Boris Johnson enjoying sausage and mash in his favourite pub – The London Story – a new video campaign launched today, reveals a new and personal side to the British capital.
Hosting the Olympics has given London a massive boost on the world stage, with huge numbers of international visitors flocking to the city. Figures released today by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) for July-September 2013 show that a record 4.9 million people visited the city. For the first nine months of 2013 London welcomed 12.8 million visitors, an increase of 12 per cent compared to 2012.
International visitors also spent over £3.37 billion on shopping, hotels, restaurants and visiting attractions during the summer, up five per cent compared to the same time last year.
The positive picture is also reflected across the UK as provisional estimates show there was an eight per cent increase in overseas visits between July and September, and in the first nine months of 2013 there were nearly 25 million international visits to the UK, up 11 percent year on year.
VisitLondon.com has now compiled a series of films of people who live and work in the capital talking about the city they love. In his ‘London Story’ video, The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, reveals there’s nothing better he likes doing than cycling to Hackney, east London and then on to the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, taking in the changing landscape and admiring how London has more parks and green space than any other city in the world.
Speaking about what makes London so great, he says: “With so many fascinating museums, the best theatre scene in the world, more green space than any other European city, numerous top sporting venues, a low crime rate and much else besides, it is no wonder that people from all over the globe are flocking to London in record numbers. These incredible figures prove that London is without doubt the greatest city on the planet.”
Actress and human rights campaigner Joanna Lumley fell in love with London in the 1960’s as the city acted as a ‘magnet’ for the young. For the last 20 years she has lived in Stockwell, south London, where she adores hearing the chimes of Big Ben.
Joanna says: “I’ve lived in London for certainly 45 years and every single day, I see another road or alley, or close or garden that I have never seen before. Holland Park is one of the best kept secrets in London. It’s got parterres, winding paths, statues, a little opera house, a beautiful restaurant and an orangery. It has duck ponds and peacocks which roost in the trees. There are tulips in springtime and camellias coming out before the snow has disappeared. It’s a fantastic place.”
Chef, TV personality and restaurateur, Gordon Ramsay, loves how London’s parks provide a fantastic place to spend time with his family and also how great the city is for bringing up his four children, encouraging them to explore and be independent. He says the vibe, coolness and great restaurants in the city are second to nowhere else in the world.
Gordon adds: “Whenever we are returning from a long trip, the first thing we do is go out for a great curry on Brick Lane which is phenomenal. I’ve been to India but I find curries in Brick Lane better – you can’t beat a good London curry. Shall I let you in to the ultimate London secret? The best place for the ultimate fry-up is the 24 hour café on Fulham Road called Vingt-Quatre – to me this is to die for. There is nowhere better anywhere in the world to eat than in London.’‘
Model and actress Twiggy, who became the most famous face on the planet in the 1960’s, says London is in her genes and once when she was returning from working in New York for two years, she was so emotional to come back to her home city she cried after the plane touched down.
“I just love cities and London is the best. It’s probably because I was born and raised here and as I keep saying, ‘it’s in the bones, luv!’ We’ve got the best theatres in the world, so when you come to London, you’ve got to go to the theatre. Not only do we have wonderful performers, but the buildings themselves are iconic and beautiful and amazing. Another great thing about London is shopping! What girl doesn’t love shopping and London is the best – we’ve always been the best in fashion”, says Twiggy.
World leading ballet dancers from the Royal Ballet Thiago Soares and Marianela Nuñez fell in love while performing in London and Thiago, from Brazil, later proposed on stage at the end of a performance.
Marianela, from Buenos Aires, says: “I feel like the luckiest girl in the world to be living in London – for me it is the best city in the whole world. When I leave even for just a couple of weeks, I miss it very much.”
Gordon Innes, Chief Executive of London & Partners, the promotional organisation for the city, says: “We are on course to welcome record numbers of international visitors who have all experienced what the best big city on earth has to offer.
“The London Story campaign offers a fascinating and personal insight into what the capital means to Londoners and vividly conveys to people all over the world what an amazing place it is to visit.”
VisitLondon.com is also telling the stories of a number of other passionate Londoners, including Rebecca Holmes, a make-up artist at Madame Tussauds London, Beefeater Barney Chandler, Chris Gibbons, a tour guide at Wembley Stadium, Royal London Parks Manager Mark Wasilewski and Richard Clayforth, a senior manager at perfumer, Penhaligon’s.
Watch and share their ‘London Story’ at visitlondon.com/story.