London tops world cities destination chart

The sun rises over St Paul's Cathedral Image copyright PA
Image caption London has topped the list three out of the four years it has been compiled

London has topped a list of the most popular global city destinations, according to a credit card company.

The Global Destinations Cities Index revealed the city is expected to receive 18.7 million visitors in 2014, equating to about £11bn being spent.

London mayor Boris Johnson said the city perfectly combined history, heritage, arts and culture.

Bangkok was the second most popular city with 16.4 million visitors predicted for 2014.

Using information on the total number of international arrivals and spending from overnight visitors, Mastercard found that 67% of London's international visitors come from other European cities, although the city's top "feeder" was New York.

Paris, which was the third most popular city destination, also had New York as its biggest feeder city. The majority of its visitors, 53%, were from outside of Europe.

Marion King, President at MasterCard UK, said: "As London retains its top spot for both visitor spending and international visitors, there is a huge opportunity for retailers."

Mayor of London Boris Johnson said: "With nearly nineteen million visitors this year London is the world's favourite place to visit.

"Our city perfectly combines history, heritage, arts and culture, not to mention vast amounts of green space and major events that are the envy of the planet."

Image caption The majority of the capital's visitors come from other European cities

It is the third time in four years that London has topped the list, missing out to Bangkok last year.

However, this year London saw an 8% growth in visitors, while Bangkok saw an 11% decline, dropping from 18.5 million visitors to a predicted 16.4 million in 2014.

Earlier this year the Office for National Statistics (ONS) released data which showed that London had 16.8 million visitors in 2013 which was the highest recorded number of overseas visitors since records began in 1961.

At the time, Mayor of London Boris Johnson, said the capital's diversity and "outstanding mix of culture, art, music and sport" was key to its success.

The MasterCard index ranks cities on the number of their total international visitor arrivals and the cross-border spending by those visitors, incorporating visitor and passenger growth forecasts for 2014.

It uses public data to derive the international visitor arrivals and their cross-border spending in each of the 132 destination cities using its own algorithms.

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