london south bank
Tourists take in the view of the London Eye, River Thames and Houses of Parliament from the StarFlyer on London's South BankGetty

London has beaten off rivals Bangkok and Paris to be named the world's most popular tourist destination. Nearly 19 million people are expected to visit England's capital in 2015, according to a study by Mastercard.

London's predicted income from tourism in 2015 is £13.3bn ($20.4bn, €18.1bn) and accounts for almost 0.5% of the total UK's Gross Domestic Product. Foreign residents' trips to see the the Houses of Parliament, the capital's countless museums, Tower Bridge and the iconic London Eye are vital to the UK economy.

"I'm delighted that London has held on to this coveted title, as we celebrate another triumphant and record-breaking year for tourism in the city," Boris Johnson, mayor of London, said.

"With its unrivalled mix of history, culture, culinary gems and cutting-edge creativity, I'm confident that these accolades will keep coming as the capital continues to surprise and excite visitors from all over the world," Johnson added.

MasterCard ranked a total of 132 cities in its Global Destination Index. Read on for a list of the top five most popular destination countries and the top 5 most popular tourism attractions in London (according to visitlondon.com):

Most popular tourist destinations worldwide:

  1. London – 18.82 million visitors
  2. Bangkok – 18.24 million visitors
  3. Paris – 16.06 million visitors
  4. Dubai – 14.26 million visitors
  5. Istanbul – 12.56 million visitors

London's most popular tourist attractions:

  1. British Museum
  2. National Gallery
  3. Natural History Museum
  4. Tate Modern
  5. Coca Cola London Eye