The number of visitors flocking to London last summer soared by a massive 20 percent, leading tourism chiefs to predict that the total tally for 2013 will tip over the 16 million mark, making it the most popular city to visit in the world - superseding Paris and New York.

Official figures released on Thursday (January 16) showed almost 4.9 million tourists came to the capital between July and September. That's up almost 19.5 percent on the summer of 2012 when London hosted the Olympic Games.

"We have had a knock out set of figures for London, our best summer since the Norman invasion," said Kit Malthouse, Chairman of London and Partners.

"We are the first city in history where the number of tourists has gone up after the Olympic Games not down and I think that is down to a realisation of the capital, that took place during the Games, people saw beyond beefeaters and the royal family and heritage, they saw a fantastic vibrant, exciting, sexy, young welcoming city," said Malthouse, who is also London's Deputy Mayor for Business and Enterprise.

Royal baby mania, a long hot summer, Andy Murray winning Wimbledon and landmark exhibits about David Bowie and Pompei are all credited with drawing tourists to London.

Annually the number of tourists is up 12 percent and they are spending 120 million pounds more than in previous years. Tourism chiefs believe the trend will continue setting London on target to hit the 16 million visitors mark for 2013, when the last quarterly results are released.

For the first time ever, the Big Smoke will beat the Big Apple and the City of Love for attracting visitors.

"We don't think there is another city in the world that has the same combination of products that we do," said Malthouse, referring to London's mix of pageantry, heritage and a thriving modern arts scene.

And what of the British capital's traditional and longstanding rivalry with Paris?

"Well we are rivals with lots of cities. I guess we are always in competition, Paris is a fantastic city that has a great product that draws lots and lots of tourists. We are linked now by only two hours between us, why people wouldn't come to both and spend their money? I would, I often go to Paris on holiday, it is a great city to go to, but our focus is London, we are doing extremely well," he said.

Presented by Adam Justice