London launches drive for more off-season business events

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The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, wants to make the capital more accessible and to develop big ticket events in the off season.

In a ‘London is open’ campaign launched in the Natural History Museum, he spoke of a ‘bold new vision’ to accelerate the capital as a world-class tourist destination.

“London is the world’s greatest city,” he said, “so it comes as no surprise that we lead the way when it comes to international tourism. Visitors to the capital bring huge benefits - the industry boosts London’s economy, as well as supporting hundreds of thousands of jobs and showing the world that London is an open, welcoming and diverse city.

“By inspiring visitors to come to our great city during quieter periods like autumn and to find hidden gems off the beaten track, we can ensure that the projected growth in visitor numbers is sustainable.”

A report, Tourism Vision for London, has been backed by more than 100 industry partners, which projects visitor spending to grow by almost 50 per cent to £22 billion a year, up from £14.9 billion in 2016. Two thirds of international visitors say they’re more likely to visit London given more favourable currency rates.

London & Partners, the Mayor’s official promotional agency, said tourism numbers are set to rise sharply, more than 40 million people expected to visit by 2025, an increase of 30 per cent on the 31.2 million visitors who came last year.

Other key findings show:

Some of the fastest growing markets for visitors to London by 2025 are China (103 per cent growth), India (90 per cent growth), the USA (43 per cent) and the UAE (43 per cent)

London’s tourism industry is worth 11.6 per cent of the capital’s GDP and nine per cent across the UK as a whole.

The sector employs 700,000 people in London – equivalent to one in seven jobs.

The report makes four recommendations:

Invest in more pre-visit promotion to attract more first-time visitors and those travelling off-peak.

Invest in information and the visitor experience to allow people to explore more of the city.

Ensure London can sustain and accommodate growing numbers of visitors through investment in cultural infrastructure, improving visitor amenities and harnessing digital technology.

Develop the infrastructure for business visits to ensure the city remains attractive for event organisers and delegates.

And more detailed recommendations for the hospitality industry:

Curate content into ‘seasons’ or themed months to create incentives to travel during off-peak periods.

Develop existing events in off-peak months into larger, more internationally recognised occasions.

Encourage further collaboration and alignment across public and private sectors to secure, deliver and promote major off-peak events. For example, city-wide collaboration will be required to attract the big stadium events that London needs to become the sports capital of the world.

This year’s Autumn Season will shine a spotlight on the best events taking place across the capital in the months ahead. It will also give people the chance to experience the city like a Londoner with the help of special guides including vocalist and broadcaster Jumoké Fashola, author and fashion historian Amber Buchart, London events and culture vloggers Pete and Jens, and Blue Badge Tour Guide, David Mildon.

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