Indian visitors to London spent more money there than their Japanese counterparts last year, according to figures provided by Visit London, the foremost agency engaged in promoting tourism of the British capital.
Until recently, the Japanese were considered the richest and most liberal of spenders, after the Americans. Yet in 2006, although the number of Indian tourists in London was, at 212,000, marginally less than the number of Japanese at 230,000, the former spent a good deal more. Indians spent £139 million (Rs 1,180 crore) and the Japanese £123 million (Rs 1,040 crore).
For the first time, Indian tourists were also noted as “good spenders”, underlining the scale of the emerging Indian middle class, the strength of the country’s booming economy and the fact that India overtook Japan last year to become the second largest investor in Britain, after the US.
“The booming economy and growing bilateral trade have given a boost to Indians coming here,” said a spokesman for the British Tourism Authority.
Excessive security at US airports has contributed too. Indians rarely have problems at the immigration counters at London’s Heathrow Airport. “We generally find Indians polite and in possession of proper papers,” an airport security officer told HT. “We know that Indians can hardly be linked to terror groups here.”
A record 15 million tourists flocked to Britain in 2006 — representing a 9.5 per cent increase over 2005 — and spent £7.5 billion, another record.
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