New figures have shown that a campaign supported by Mayor Sadiq Khan to revitalise London tourism has brought £289 million into the capital since it was launched in May 2021.
Before the pandemic, London was the world’s third-most visited city and one in seven jobs were in the tourism sector, but travel restrictions and closures hit hard. In 2021, it was estimated that the number of overnight stays made by tourists in the capital more than halved to 60.8 million, while the spend of £3.8 billion was an almost 80% drop from the 2019 level.
In response to this, a year-long programme of events (many of which were free) was commissioned by the London Tourism Recovery Board and delivered by London & Partners and the Greater London Authority to encourage international and domestic visitors to enjoy London’s culture, retail, leisure and, of course, hospitality sectors.
It is estimated, based on the results of a survey of people who have both seen the campaign and said they were influenced to visit London, that the return on investment of the campaign was £28 for every £1 spent. It is also suggested that 600,000 extra visitors from elsewhere in the UK, Germany, France and the USA will be flocking to the capital as a result. The campaign will continue in the coming months.
Khan said: “Our hospitality, leisure and culture sectors are world-leading and a major driver of our economy, but they have had an incredibly difficult few years due to the impact of the pandemic and now the cost of living crisis…I will continue to bang the drum for our capital and highlight our unparalleled offer to visitors from all round the world, as well as the many exciting free events that we have on offer, as we build a better, more prosperous city for all.”
UK Hospitality CEO Kate Nicholls celebrated how the campaign had helped London’s struggling restaurant industry: “London is one of the most vibrant cities on Earth and it’s fantastic to see the success of the Mayor’s campaign, bringing much needed visitors back through the doors of our amazing hospitality venues. The sector is so critical to London, generating £36 billion for the economy and employing half a million people, and I’m certain the campaign will go from strength-to-strength, attracting even more people from at home and abroad to visit.”
“As we head into winter, I can’t wait to see even more people enjoying the capital’s Christmas offering and the return of our world class fireworks display this New Year,” concluded Nicholls.
Michael Kill, CEO of the Night Time Industries Association, said: “The proactive response by the London Mayor in conjunction with business leaders from across London in response to the end of the pandemic has led the way in recovery campaigns.”
While the campaign is being celebrated, optimism for the state of the hospitality industry across the UK is still cautious, as a lethal cocktail of staff shortages, rising energy bills and inflation threatens restaurants. In the quarter to September 2022, restaurant insolvencies increased by 46%.
This article was originally published by the drinks business and has been shared with permission.