Publishing his final Budget for the Greater London Authority (GLA) Group for 2021/22, Khan outlined a new campaign to promote a safe return to central London’s hospitality, retail and cultural areas post-lockdown in tandem with partners from each sector.
The announcement comes amid the Mayor’s concerns that London’s global business, commercial and cultural centre, known as the Central Activities Zone, faces a more challenging route out of lockdown than major cities such as New York and Paris given the lower number of people living in the heart of the city and the capital’s greater reliance tourists and workers.
As reported by The Morning Advertiser (MA) in August, hospitality businesses near London’s employment hubs were hit for more than £2bn by lost lunches and abandoned after-work drinks due to the Covid-19 pandemic, according to the Centre for Economics and Business Research.
What’s more, City Hall’s analysis of forecasts by VisitBritain showed that consumer spending in central London by overseas tourists was £7.4bn lower throughout 2020, while domestic tourists spent £3.5bn less, and commuters £1.9bn less in 2020 compared to 2019.
Safe reopening ‘crucial’
In light of this, Khan hopes domestic tourism will be at the heart of London’s drive to “build back better” and will focus on putting jobs and the economy at the heart of his post-pandemic planning.
“I am determined to do everything I can to help our great city recover as quickly as possible from this appalling pandemic,” he said.
“Crucial to that will be the safe reopening of central London and attracting Londoners and domestic visitors back to our amazing restaurants, pubs, cultural venues and of course our major shopping districts like Oxford and Regent Street and Covent Garden.
“London has always been one of the most visited cities in the world and my proposed investment will help to support central London as it begins to recover.”
Khan added that he looks forward to welcoming international visitors back to the capital once again in the longer term.
“I have called upon the Government to fund a major international tourism campaign with London as the gateway to the UK,” he continued.
“Although there is light at the end of the tunnel with the rollout of the Covid-19 vaccines, the GLA Group budgets remain in a precarious position.
“While we have received higher than expected council tax and business rates returns, 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.”
World class hotels, bars, restaurant and clubs ‘critical’
The announcement comes in the wake of a range of initiatives launched by Khan as he bids to support employment and the wider economy.
These include backing hundreds of small businesses through his Back to Business Fund and Pay It Forward London scheme – through which Londoners can buy goods and services from their favourite local and independent businesses struggling with the challenges of Covid-19 in advance.
The Mayor has also allocated £2.3m for a Culture at Risk fund to help some of London's imperilled creative and night-time businesses, such as cinemas and music venues.
“We very much welcome the Mayor’s focus prioritising hospitality and tourism as the key to London’s recovery,” UK Hospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said.
“Our world class hotels, bars, restaurant and clubs are critical to London not just economically but also socially and culturally.
“The announcement of significant support to market our tourist sector will be key to boosting consumer and business confidence ahead of a swift, safe and sustainable reopening and a more rapid recovery.
“We look forward to working with the Mayor and other partners to deliver this and welcome back our teams, our guest and our international visitors in due course.”