Simon Busch – Amid leaden wintry skies, it may come as a surprise to Londoners but new figures suggest the city has beaten its arch rival, Paris, to become the world’s most popular city for tourists.
However, a growing spat between the the two cities’ administrations suggests that, when it comes to comparisons between London and Paris, there are only lies, damn lies and statistics.
Figures released this week by the UK’s Office for National Statistics show that 4.9 million people visited London from July to September 2013.
That was an increase of 20% on the same period in the previous year — during which London hosted the Olympics — and a new quarterly record.
Taking a wider view, for the first nine months of 2013, 12.8 million visitors flocked to the British capital, an increase of 12% compared with the previous year.
The figures prompted the city’s promotional body, London and Partners, to proclaim that London was “on course to welcome over 16 million visitors in one year.”
That in turn has led to reports in Britain and abroad that London has trumped Paris as the most visited city in the world.
The two cities have actually swapped the top spot on various lists in recent years.
According to the MasterCard Global Destinations Cities Index for 2012, London narrowly beat out Paris for the top spot with 16.9 million visitors.
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