Bigger and busier than ever, cities are still where we want to work and play – and London is top of the pile

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Big cities LondonLondon ____________________ (1 BECOME) the second most visited city in the world, behind Hong Kong, according to a survey by Euromonitor, the research group.

The numbers are for 2014 and in that year 17.4 million people ____________________ (2 COME) to London, compared with 27.8 million visitors to Hong Kong. If you excluded overnight visitors to Hong Kong from China, London ____________________ (3 BE) No 1. In third place was Singapore, with 17.1 million, ____________________ (4 FOLLOW) by Bangkok (16.2 million), and Paris (15 million).

New York ____________________ (5 THE MOST/VISIT) city in North America. The only city with more hotel beds than London, Las Vegas, comes in at 22, with 6.2 million visitors, but most are American.

To those of us who live in London its ranking seems unsurprising. But if you stand back, it is really rather remarkable, for there are several stories embedded here. One is that international travel ____________________ (6 BOOM) at the moment, with China the main driving force. This ____________________ (7 SAY) something about the size and wealth of the Chinese economy, but also about the desires of its burgeoning middle class. Chinese people want to experience the world, in a way that, for example, the Japanese no longer seem ____________________ (8 WANT) to do.

Another story in these figures is the dominance of London vis-à-vis the rest of the UK. The only other city in these islands to qualify was Dublin, at  No 49 with 3.6 million visitors, ____________________ (9 PUT) it ahead of Athens and San Francisco. There is a challenge here for Edinburgh, and perhaps Manchester, too. To pull in visitors you need a cultural experience and a sense of welcome, like Dublin, a northern powerhouse cannot ____________________ (10 CREATE) by politicians in Westminster.

A third story is the lure of a city. We live in a world of amazingly competent and very cheap electronic communications, yet we cluster together for work and play. The same phenomenon is evident everywhere: giant cities ____________________ (11 SPRING UP) all over the world. The challenge we face of ____________________ (12 FIT) in another couple of million people in the coming decades looks a doddle alongside what China – or Africa, or Latin America – has to do.

And that is the biggest message of this report: we need to cope with these huge pressures and make big cities better. So, the people who run cities need to meet this demand by ____________________ (13 INVEST), to make them safer, cleaner, more environmentally sustainable and, crucially, more affordable to live in. Run properly, giant cities are huge generators of wealth and will become even bigger.

Final point: according to Euromonitor, in 2030 the world’s largest city in terms of its economy, New York, ____________________ (14 HAVE) a bigger economy than Spain.

(Adapted from The Independent, 31/1/2016)

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