London celebrations

Sadiq Khan unveils his plan to attract international visitors to London

S

adiq Khan is planning a campaign to attract international visitors to ease the ‘crisis’ which has left central London struggling to recover from the pandemic.

The mayor will target the United States and Canada, as well as France and Germany, as he aims to build on last year’s Let’s Do London campaign which encouraged domestic tourists to visit the capital.

Plans have been drawn up with his Covid business forum and Mr Khan is expected to travel to the US in early summer to ‘beat the drum’ for London.

He also said he hoped Trafalgar Square would host St. Patrick’s Day and St. George’s Day events this year. He said he was looking forward to the London Marathon, which will be held in October this year, returning to its traditional April date from next year.

Last week it was announced that the Pride festival would return to the streets of central London on July 2 to mark its 50th anniversary.

Mr Khan said: “In parts of outer and inner London things are going quite well. There was a good recovery. During the pandemic, because people were working from home, these local economies did well

“The real crisis in our city is in the core business area – our city centre, the City of London, Westminster, Camden, Kensington and Chelsea, the South Bank, Canary Wharf.

“The first thing we need to do is bring international tourists back. We have a big campaign – Let’s Do London – which has encouraged many tourists from all over the country to return, and now we are working on our campaign for North America.

“The three target audiences that will really help our city center are North America (US and Canada), France and Germany.”

Lockdown restrictions and restrictions on international travel have caused tourist spending to fall by almost £11billion in 2020 compared to the previous year.

International tourism is feared to return to pre-pandemic levels before at least 2025.

The £6million Let’s Do London campaign has been credited with helping to attract British visitors to the capital.

A total of 280,000 domestic tourists visited the capital last summer, adding around £70m to London’s economy.

Mr Khan said the second part of his strategy to restore the fortunes of central London was to encourage workers to return to their offices.

But he said it was directly linked to the number of bus and Tube services Transport for London was able to operate.

The government last Friday delayed a decision on future funding for TfL by extending its current pandemic bailout by a fortnight, until February 18.

“We need to make the public transport experience a good one,” Mr Khan said.

“You cannot cut public transport and expect this capital to contribute to national recovery. People won’t want to use the subway if there are fewer subways.

City Hall has announced a series of free events taking place across the city during the mid-term school holidays which begin at the end of the week.

The Spring into London initiative includes a free outdoor art program and a series of light installations, City Lights, in venues such as St Paul’s Cemetery from February 11-20.

The south shore will host the Imagine Children festival, on the occasion of its 20th anniversary, from Wednesday to February 20.

Up to 60 West End shows will offer tickets from £10.