London’s tourism sector will benefit from the planned multi-million-pound campaign to drive visitors to the city, says GlobalData. However, the leading data and analytics company notes that the tourism industry remains in a precarious position as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Hannah Free, Travel and Tourism Analyst at GlobalData, comments: “London’s tourism industry has been badly affected by COVID-19, which has kept many business and leisure tourists away from England’s capital. While rural staycation areas in the UK have been able to capitalise on changes in demand, tourism businesses in London have suffered and continue to face a barrage of challenges. This includes the UK government’s plans to increase VAT in April 2022, staff shortages exacerbated by Brexit and COVID-19, concerns around health due to the pandemic, and the rising cost of living.”
COVID-19 related travel restrictions saw international arrivals to the UK declined by 80.2% year-on-year (YoY) to 7.8 million in 2020, according to GlobalData. Concurrently, inbound tourism spending declined by 84.2% YoY, from $43.2 billion in 2019 to $6.8 billion in 2020, which will have decimated many of London’s tourism and hospitality businesses that depend on international tourists. As travel restrictions ease globally, the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, plans to encourage international tourists to return to London with a £7 million ($9.5 million) international marketing campaign.
Free adds: “GlobalData forecasts expect international arrivals to return to pre-pandemic levels by 2024, with a projected 39.8 million visitors. However, competitor cities are already out-promoting and out-spending London. For instance, New York has been running a £30 million ($40.1 million) tourism campaign since April 2021. With England’s capital on the backfoot, the city will face additional challenges attracting visitors.”
The Mayor reportedly plans to spend an additional £3 million ($4.1 million) attracting domestic tourists to London as an extension of ‘Let’s Do London’. However, a GlobalData survey* reveals that 68% of UK respondents are concerned about eating out at restaurants because of COVID-19 risk and a further 69% are concerned about visiting shops.
Free concludes: “While the proposed campaign will be a welcomed driver of domestic tourism, a cornerstone of promotional activity will need to showcase London as a safe destination to attract visitors.”