LONDON is a tourist mecca. The capital has just trumped Bangkok, New York, Paris, Amsterdam, Rome, Milan, Barcelona and Prague as the world’s most popular tourist destination for the second year running.
Top-class exhibitions, blockbuster entertainment, major sporting events and successes in the West End are expected to translate into a record 18.82m visitors by the end of this year – over 1m more than last year, according to the Global Destinations Cities Index, sponsored by credit card group, Mastercard.
London has topped the index in five out of seven years and vies for top slot with Bangkok, which topped the index in 2012 and 2013. This year Istanbul moved up from seventh to fifth place, pushing New York and Singapore one slot down.
Events which will strengthen London’s reputation as a global creative powerhouse this year include Hamlet at the Barbican (starring Benedict Cumberbatch), The World Goes Pop at Tate Modern and Cosmonauts: Birth of the Space Age at the Science Museum.
Formula E, the NFL International Series, and the 2015 Rugby World Cup matches are sure to be big crowd-pullers.
Lifting London’s profile in America this week, Dame Helen Mirren, starring as HRH The Queen in The Audience on Broadway was awarded Outstanding Actress In A Play by the New York City Drama Desk, to add to the awards in her trophy cabinet.
▪ The odds are shortening on Zac Goldsmith becoming Conservative candidate for next year’s London Mayoral election, despite the fact he has yet to declare. A flurry of bets within the space of an hour saw Ladbrokes cut its odds on the Richmond Park MP succeeding Boris Johnson at City Hall from 7/4 to evens. Odds of 10/1 are being offered on Baroness Karren Brady, small business ambassador, West Ham United director and a star of The Apprentice. Former England, Tottenham and Arsenal footballer, Sol Campbell is 25/1 to stand as a Tory candidate and 66/1 to win.
▪ Richard Farquhar, head trader at private equity firm Liontrust, has raised more than £100,000 towards a £1.4m target for Pancreatic Cancer UK and Racing Welfare walking the racecourses of Britain. Over the 13 months from March this year he aims to walk the 2,750 miles that link sixty racecourses. Richard was inspired to Walk the Courses on hearing several years ago that Department of Health funding into pancreatic cancer research was just £700,000. It is the most deadly of the 21 most common cancers, with a five-year survival rate of less than four per cent. Richard started his career as a betting shop manager for Ladbrokes for three years before moving into the City first with fund manager Henderson Administration, and then with Liontrust where he is a partner and has been working with them for two decades. Let’s put our hands in our pockets for Richard.