Paris disputes latest tourism numbers out of London

London (Alex Yeung/

London (Alex Yeung/


, Last Updated: 11:15 AM ET

The latest tourism figures released out of London this week have sparked an old rivalry with France, after French media interpreted the numbers as a slight on Paris, long known as the most visited city in the world.

Not long after London's tourism office released a statement claiming that 2013 is on course to become a record-setting year with a projected 16 million overseas visitors, a defensive French media latched onto the news, disputing the possibility that they could be overtaken by their old rivals.

Inflamed largely by Le Figaro with the headline "London dethrones Paris," the report has become national news in France.

But here's where the controversy gets messy. The latest official tourism figures available for Paris are for 2012 and peg the number of overseas visitors at 15.7 million.

VisitLondon's statistic of 16 million is a projection for 2013 based on preliminary figures for the first nine months of 2013, during which time London received 12.8 million visitors.

Nowhere in their press release does the London tourist office dispute or reference Paris tourism numbers.

Where the Gallic country may also find offence is in an audacious claim made by Gordon Ramsay, one of the boldest and brashest celebrity chefs in the world, who asserts in a promotional video: "There is nowhere better anywhere in the world to eat than in London."

Ramsay is one of several high-profile personalities such as model and actress Twiggy and Mayor Boris Johnson, enlisted to promote London as a tourist destination.

In his video, Ramsay recommends hitting Brick Lane for a London curry, Borough Market, and for "the ultimate fry-up" VQ, a 24-hour diner on Fulham Road.

Watch the video at