Mayor proposes £10m to attract more tourists back to London

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan has today announced proposals to invest an additional £10m to attract more tourists back to the capital – including launching a new international tourism campaign

  • Further £3m investment in Sadiq’s hugely successful ‘Let Do London’ domestic tourism campaign – the biggest ever 
  • £7m International tourism campaign to start in Spring 
  • Focus on making London safer, supporting Transport for London, tackling air pollution and the climate emergency as Sadiq publishes final Budget proposals for 2022-23

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan has today announced proposals to invest an additional £10m to attract more tourists back to the capital – including launching a new international tourism campaign.

Sadiq’s £6m domestic tourism campaign – ‘Lets Do London’, the biggest domestic tourism campaign ever, has already proved hugely successful – bringing in an additional £70 million in spending and 280,000 visitors to the capital, delivering a return on investment of £18 for every £1 spent*.

The Mayor now plans to invest a further £3m to attract more domestic tourists back to the capital, with a campaign to drive confidence in London as a destination and promoting cultural and sporting activities happening in London this year.

He will also invest £7m in a dedicated international marketing campaign to drive international tourists to London from this Spring, which will be led by London’s business growth and destination agency, London & Partners, alongside the domestic marketing campaign.

This campaign will encourage international tourists to return with confidence to London now that travel restrictions are easing around the world.

Before the pandemic, London was the third most visited city on the planet, driven largely by the city’s world-leading cultural and visitor attractions. However, due to the pandemic in 2021, the number of overnight stays made by tourists to the capital more than halved to 60.8 million with a spend of £3.8 billion, compared to 147.4 million overnight visits and spending of £18.8 billion in 2019.

The Mayor has announced this new funding as he publishes his final Budget for the Greater London Authority (GLA) Group for 2022-23. The final Budget takes into account that council tax and business rates returns from local authorities are higher than were forecast in the Mayor’s consultation Budget proposals last year.

Although this is welcome news, the GLA Group Budget is still shaped by the ongoing impact of the pandemic and the lack of funding from the Government to support key public services particularly Transport for London (TfL), the Met police and the London Fire Brigade.

The Mayor’s top priority remains making London safer and he has already invested a record amount from City Hall over the last five years to support the police. But the Government continues to underfund London’s police force, confirming in December that it will only fund 4,557 of the 6,000 additional police officers Sadiq believes London needs. In addition, the Home Office is still refusing to award London the extra £159m National and International Capital Cities grant that its own independent review said London is due.

With just two days until the current funding deal expires, the Government is also still refusing to properly finance Transport for London which has been severely affected by Covid-19. The Mayor has repeatedly warned that the Government’s failure to invest in TfL means that TfL is having to plan on the basis of a managed decline of the capital’s public transport network that will impact the entire country’s recovery from the pandemic.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said:

London’s amazing hospitality, retail, and cultural sectors have faced an existential threat from the impacts of the Covid-19 – but now that restrictions for travellers coming to the UK have been eased, London is fully open once more and ready to retake its place as one of the most visited cities in the world. There is no doubt that the return of international tourism will be central to London’s economic recovery

I am pleased that we will be able to extend our hugely successful Let’s Do London campaign and I look forward to working with London and Partners and the wider tourism industry as we attract international tourists back to enjoy our wonderful city and showcase everything the capital has to offer

The investment I am setting out today will help make London a greener, fairer, safer and more prosperous city. However, while we hope the dark days of the pandemic are now behind us, the GLA Group budget remains in a precarious position. Unless the Government fully invests in the capital, there is no doubt that I will need to cut vital services, which will in turn hamper our recovery and that of the entire country

The Budget confirms no changes to the council tax proposals that the Mayor announced earlier this year.

Last month, the Mayor revealed that it could take until at least 2025 for domestic and international visitor overnight numbers to return to the levels seen in 2019, with spend predicted to take until 2026 to surpass pre-pandemic levels.

Prior to the onset of the Omicron variant and the Covid threat level increasing, Let’s Do London helped drive an increase of 33 per cent in weekday daytime footfall and an increase of 43 per cent in weekend evening footfall between May to November.

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 of the capital and prior to the pandemic 15 per cent of overseas visitors to London came as part of wider trip to the UK.

Laura Citron, CEO of London & Partners said:

We’re excited to welcome back visitors from all over the world to London. With travel restrictions lifting, our city is now one of the most accessible major travel destinations. We’ve seen a big pent-up demand for global travel and our Let’s Do London international tourism campaign will inspire travellers to make London their destination of choice this year. With the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations, the return of major sporting events and cultural festivals and a number of new theatre shows, exhibitions and restaurants, there has never been a better time to visit London

Jace Tyrrell, Chief Executive of New West End Company:

Nearly two years on from the start of the pandemic and the road ahead for the West End looks promising. Whilst it is heartening to see domestic customers filling our high streets with optimism once again and travel restrictions gradually disappearing, we can speed up the nation’s recovery greatly by incentivising high spending tourists to return to our shores

We welcome the Mayor’s investment which will help put London on the front foot as a global destination in a crucial year for tourism. Longer-term however, we need to ensure that London’s West End and the wider country remains globally competitive to alternative world-cities. This means exploring a simplified visa process, reintroducing tax-free shopping and extending Sunday trading hours. We’re in good stead to build back better, but we must clear a path if we want tourists – who generate an estimated £237 billion across the UK every year and support one in eight London jobs – to flock back to our high streets

Correct as of 16 February 2022