London Luton Airport provides a highly visible gateway for UK and international travellers to visit Luton, London and the UK in general. Luton however has a variety of attractions to ensure that it is a desirable attraction in its own right.

Luton’s Museums

Luton Museum and Stockwood Discovery Centre attracted approximately 261,411 visitors in 2010, which is a 45% increase on visitor numbers five years previously.

Luton Hoo

Luton Hoo was built in 1767 by prominent architect Robert Adam for the 3rd Earl of Bute. It was subsequently remodelled after a fire in 1843 and bought by South African diamond magnate Sir Julius Wernher in 1903. Over the years Luton Hoo has counted many heads of state and members of royalty among its visitors, including Queen Mary, Edward VII and Lord Mountbatten. In 1947, the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh spent part of their honeymoon on the Luton Hoo estate as guest of the Wernhers, frequently returning to celebrate future wedding anniversaries.

The Grade One listed mansion and parklands were bought by Elite Hotels in 1999, emerging towards the end of 2007 as a five star hotel, having undergone a £60 million refurbishment. The hotel comprises 228 bedrooms and conference and meeting suites, divided between the Mansion House, the Country Club and business facilities at Warren Weir, as well as an 18 hole golf course. The hotel receives over 100,000 visitors a year, which is projected to increase by 25% in the year ahead.

London Luton Airport

London Luton Airport has shown impressive growth in passenger numbers that it handles in the past two decades. In 2009, the airport handled 9.1 million passengers, a 32% increase from 6.2 million passengers in 2000 and a 70% increase from the 2.7 million passengers that the airport handled in 1990.20 The airport is one of the main terminals for private jets in the UK, with Harrods, Signature and Ocean Sky all based there.

Visitor numbers

In 2009, there were approximately 113,000 visits to Luton by overseas tourists involving a stay of at least one night. There is no information collected for domestic tourists, however a 2007 survey by East of England Tourism found that 7% of visitors to Bedfordshire were from overseas, 45% were domestic from outside the Eastern region and 25% from within Bedfordshire itself.

Tourism employment

There are an estimated 5,900 people employed in tourism related industries which includes hotels, restaurants and bars, as well as libraries, travel agencies and sports and recreational facilities. In addition, London Luton Airport itself currently employs around 8,000 people. As the airport further expands, it is estimated that for every additional million passengers the airport handles, a further 1,000 jobs are created.

Distribution, transport and communication (the closest available category to tourism) generated £1.2 billion in Gross Value Added (GVA, economic output rather than turnover) in 2008. This was 29% of total GVA in Luton. More recent data is not available.


With thanks to our Love Luton partners: 

Arriva; A Thin Place; Barnfield College; British Land;  easyJet; FCC Environment; Gulfstream; Heart FM;  Keepmoat;  London Luton Airport; Luton Borough Council; Luton Hoo Hotel, Golf & Spa;  Luton on Sunday; The Mall; Signature Flight Support; University of Bedfordshire; Vauxhall Motors; VolkerFitzpatrick and  VolkerHighways.