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Mayor of London reaffirms commitment to boosting tourism

Footfall in the heart of London’s shopping, hospitality and theatre district – the West End – is 16 per cent below pre-pandemic levels.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has redoubled his commitment to boost tourism in the capital as new data revealed visitors to key London tourist hot spots are still below pre-pandemic levels.

Footfall in the heart of London’s shopping, hospitality and theatre district – the West End – is 16 per cent below pre-pandemic levels1. While this has increased compared to March last year, the Mayor has pledged yesterday Tuesday 29 March to continue working alongside London’s businesses to bring tourists back to the capital.

In a keynote speech at London & Partners’ annual Tourism Means Business conference, Sadiq addressed leaders from across the tourism sector about the power of collaboration and how they can work together to entice domestic and international tourists back to London. 

Tourism plays a vital part in London’s social and economic life – it supports as many as one in seven jobs in the capital and contributes almost 12 per cent of London’s GDP. London is the third biggest driver for people visiting the UK and accounted for 53 per cent of the UK’s international visits in 2019.

London visitors go on to spend over £640 million in local economies outside the capital and, prior to the pandemic, 15 per cent of overseas visitors to London came as part of a wider trip to the UK.

The Mayor is doing all he can to support London’s businesses and venues that rely on tourism. From City Hall he has boosted his £6m Let’s Do London domestic tourism campaign with a further £3m. The campaign has brought in an additional £81 million in spending and 330,000 visitors to the capital, and supported thousands of companies and creatives, including many freelancers.

Between May and November last year, the Let’s Do London campaign, which was commissioned by the London Tourism Recovery Board (co-chaired by Bernard Donoghue and Kate Nicholls), helped drive an increase of 33 per cent in weekday daytime footfall and an increase of 43 per cent in weekend evening footfall in key central London locations. The campaign also delivered more than 500 events taking place across the centre of our city

Earlier this month, the Government removed the remaining restrictions on international travel for all passengers arriving in the UK. As part of plans to encourage international visitors back into London, the Mayor has invested £10 million to attract visitors back to London this year. Working with London & Partners, the London Recovery Board and the wider tourism industry, the Mayor will now launch a huge £10m international tourism campaign later this spring.

International visitors to London play a vital role in supporting the city’s tourism industry, as well as hospitality and cultural venues across the city. In 2019, 84 per cent of overnight tourism spend in London came from international visitors, compared to 37 per cent for the rest of Great Britain. These sectors were badly impacted by the pandemic.

This investment comes as London prepares for an exciting array of events this year, including the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, the opening of ABBA Voyage, the UEFA Euro Women’s finals, the 50th Anniversary of Pride, the brand-new Laver Cup at the O2, the Wimbledon Championships, and the 10th anniversary of the 2012 Olympics. The team at London & Partners continue to bid for more events for the years to come.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “While it is promising to see more and more people visiting the heart of London, I know that it has been, and continues to be, a difficult time for the tourism sector in the capital, which is used to welcoming people from all over the world.

“I’m committed to doing everything I can to get London back on its feet after the pandemic, and I will continue to work alongside London’s businesses and tourism industry to encourage visitors back to our city. Now that restrictions for travellers coming to the UK have lifted, London is fully open once more, and our new £10m international tourism campaign will help to ensure we retake our place as one of the most visited cities in the world.”

Laura Citron, CEO at London & Partners, said: “This year will be pivotal for London's tourism industry as we look to attract international visitors back to the city following the lifting of travel restrictions. From the Platinum Jubilee Celebrations to the return of sporting events and music and cultural festivals, there is so much for visitors to look forward to in London this year.”

Kate Nicholls, Chief Executive of UKHospitality, said: “London’s hospitality and tourism businesses will be a key economic driver, not just for the capital and the sector, but for wider UK recovery, too. The funding programme and other initiatives to push up inbound tourism figures are therefore very welcome. This is a particularly positive signal during this time of falling domestic consumer confidence and soaring costs, which are stifling the industry’s ability to invest and expand post-pandemic.”

Bernard Donoghue, Director Association of Leading Visitor Attractions & Co-Chair, London Tourism Recovery Board, said: "Tourism benefits everyone, every day, everywhere in London. It's a vital industry, creating jobs at all skill levels and in all parts of our city. It's been hit hard over the last 2 years and the unprecedented level of support for it shown by the Mayor is reflective of just how important our visitor economy is, not just to our economic prosperity but to our enjoyment of the city, our health and wellbeing. Our hugely successful domestic marketing campaign, 'Let's Do London', has been driven by the private sector and been fully supported and given even greater amplification by the Mayor and we are delighted that it will now be launched internationally. We miss our visitors, we need them and we are ready to welcome them back."

Jace Tyrrell, Chief executive at New West End Company, said: “While we have seen a strong domestic recovery, with weekly footfall rising by 46% week on week, more needs to be done to entice our much missed and much valued international tourists back to the district as we enter the key summer period. With this in mind, we fully support the launch of the international tourism campaign to showcase the very best of the capital to our key markets. In the wake of Brexit and the pandemic, we also need to ensure we remain competitive with our European counterparts. We are therefore urging Government to reconsider the removal of tax free shopping, relax Sunday Trading laws, and make it easier for tourists to visit our shores by streamlining the visa process. Only with the removal of these unnecessary hurdles can viable retail and hospitality businesses across the country thrive once again.”

1. Data from New West End Company, comparing footfall from March 2019 to March 2022.

Co-Founder & Chief Editor - TravelDailyNews Media Network | Website | + Posts

Vicky is the co-founder of TravelDailyNews Media Network where she is the Editor-in Chief. She is also responsible for the daily operation and the financial policy. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Tourism Business Administration from the Technical University of Athens and a Master in Business Administration (MBA) from the University of Wales.

She has many years of both academic and industrial experience within the travel industry. She has written/edited numerous articles in various tourism magazines.