Page last updated at 06:44 GMT, Friday, 19 December 2008

Tourism boosted by a weak pound

London Eye Santas
The London Eye reports brisk festive business despite the downturn

The tumbling pound could provide a Christmas present for London's tourism industry as visitors with euros flock to the city to do their shopping.

Tourism operators say despite the economic downturn their industry is proving somewhat resilient.

Rita Beckwith of City Cruises, which runs pleasure boat tours of the Thames, said the industry was hoping that 2009 will see trade levels hold steady.

Compared with many other industries in London, she said that would be 'a win'.

The pound's historic low against the euro is said to be drawing bargain-hunting shoppers, who are also sight-seeing.

Domestic dip

Mrs Beckwith said: "We may be lucky - the jury is still out on what's going to happen next year, but in addition to the Europeans, we have seen a slight increase in American traffic for this time of the year."

While Christmas shoppers taking in other attractions are very welcome, Mrs Beckwith said there would have to be a lot of them to make up for the anticipated dip in UK visitors to London - which accounts for half the city's tourism.

Linda and Jaakkao Koski flew into London last weekend from Finland for a pre-Christmas shopping blitz.

"We heard there are bargains, so we will do some shopping," said Mrs Koski, adding that it made a change from her previous visits to the city, which she found very pricey.

A spokeswoman for the London Eye - one of the city's most popular attractions - said visitors numbers were holding steady and the Eye has passed the 30 million visitor mark this year.

Ken Kelling of Visit London said London had never offered better value.

"We know that people come to London for quality experiences and quality products. But combined with great value, it's an irresistible combination for people thinking about a city short-break."

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