Why does London continue to attract substantial overseas visitors?

by Mark Benson on December 4, 2008

While there are many cities around the world which seem to attract more than their fair share of overseas visitors looking to move permanently, London is a city which has fared very well and attracted visitors from all areas of the world. In the good times and bad times it seems a London is a major magnet for many would-be travellers and there are significant numbers who decide to stay in the UK for the longer term.

So what is it about London which attracts so many people?


Even though London is the capital of the UK and represents the country on the international stage it is very different from the vast majority of major UK cities and towns. London is in many ways a country within a country with the greatest diversion of ethnic minorities, substantial wealth and deprivation together with an employment market which continues to grow. While there is no doubt that the ongoing credit crunch and economic slowdown has impacted on the London employment scene historically London has bounced back quicker than many other areas of the UK.

Communities within communities

There are few cities in the world which attract a greater number of overseas visitors from all corners of the globe. This has created a significant number of communities within communities with a significant number of Japanese and Chinese communities to name but two. This has assisted and attracted many would-be visitors to London in the knowledge that help is at hand with the vast majority of ethnic minorities represented in some shape or form.

While you could argue that any traveller looking to relocate overseas needs to ingratiate themselves into the local community and local culture, a significant expat minority can be very useful in overcoming local quirks and assisting with the settlement phase of a relocation.


When you compare the UK to the size of places such as the US, China and Japan you may assume that entertainment levels in London would have limited impact on the international stage. However, in line with London’s growing community of different ethnic groups you can literally find any type of entertainment you like within the walls of London itself. This has attracted a whole host of entertainers and artists from around the world, rich and famous movie stars and financiers from around the globe. London has one of the greatest entertainment scenes in the world and it seems to be growing at an impressive rate – a true 24 hours a day city!

Cost of living

Unfortunately the cost of living in London is perhaps the city’s major downfall with significant cost increases compared to the majority of the UK although in general employment salaries are often very much higher than the national average. Many travellers to London have been forced to move to the outskirts of the city where costs are significantly lower but employment opportunities may also be affected.

Property prices

There is no doubt that the London property market is severely detached from the rest of the UK and probably more volatile in some areas than many cities of the world. However, the vast array of old and new mansions, houses and flats has attracted those looking to acquire property to live in and also property investors. House prices in London often bear no resemblance to those around the UK and London is probably one of the most lucrative cities in the world when it comes to property.

Transport network

When it comes to transport London literally has it all as it is central to the UK rail network, within a short distance of the major UK airports, has a direct link to Europe via the Channel Tunnel and extensive links overseas. The internal transport network of London is also impressive and while the underground system does attract its fair share of criticism there have been substantial upgrades over the last few years and an increase in service levels. Few cities around the world can match the internal and external transport network of London.


London leads the way in the financial markets of the world with a substantial presence in the investment market, money market, metals market, oil market and bond markets. This has attracted a great number of international investment companies to London which in turn has attracted a great number of foreign visitors, both long-term and short-term. The strength of the UK financial market’s goes back hundreds of years when the country had exposure to and control of many parts of the world and is something of a tradition.

However, the city of London more than any other city in the UK has kept pace with the latest technology, latest financial developments and reinvented itself for the modern world in order to retain its position at the top table of the financial world.

The UK in general

While we have covered some of the main attractions the UK may have for overseas visitors it is also worthwhile considering the enormous tourist market which brings visitors from as far afield as the Far East and America on a regular basis. The country has a history which is colourful, interesting and substantially longer than many other countries in the world.

It is also worth considering the substantial divergence in climate and landscape across the whole of the UK from the Highlands of Scotland to the hustle and bustle of life in London. While some areas of the national transport network do need improvement, London has the best links to any part of the UK and within just a short few hours it is possible to be enjoying the delights of the Scottish Highlands far removed from the fast-moving London scene.

Those who live in the UK often do not appreciate the many attractions the country has for the rest of the world and London in particular. The capital city actually has its own individual climate with research showing that heat is absorbed in the daytime and released in the evening to give the city its own specific microclimate.

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