Travel trade association UKinbound has written to London mayor Sadiq Khan expressing concerns on the new requirements and proposals from Transport for London (TfL).
The proposal includes new requirements from the transport providers working in the capital, which will unfairly impact private hire operators, vehicles and drivers who provide a vital service for international tourists.
In the letter addressed to the mayor, the following concerns were highlighted:
Increase in costs
Due to the exemption removal of the congestion charge for private hire vehicles (from April 2019); a proposed substantial increase in operating licence fees; and the requirement to be Euro 6 compliant (from April 2019), incurring an additional daily charge of £12.50 per vehicle entering the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ).
It is proposed that licenced drivers will only be allowed to work within the geographic area for which they are licensed, which will be inconvenient and inefficient.
For example, if a client wanted a transfer from central London to a Southampton hotel, the London private hire driver would need to transfer them to the boundary of London and then transfer them and their luggage into a vehicle licensed for the adjacent area.
Manned phone line
Small businesses and sole traders (such as valued Blue Badge Guides) will be adversely affected or may go out of business, as new requirements propose that operators need to have a manned phone line at a fixed address, the whole time any driver is on a job.
“A substantial part of our business is chauffeur driven tours”
“Kristine Bileskalne, managing director of Tiernan Travel, said: “As an inbound tour operator, a substantial part of our business is chauffeur-driven tours within the UK. Our preference is to support independent blue badge driver guides and so we are worried about the impact of these proposed price increases on our business.”
The letter also added that inbound tourism is the UK’s fifth largest export industry, contributing an estimated GBP 13.5 billion to London’s economy last year. London is the gateway to the rest of the UK for the majority of international tourists, with over 50% just visiting London alone.
“We should be ensuring that we make the experience for our international visitors as easy as possible”
Mark McVay, UKinbound chairman, said: “UKinbound, of course, supports the Mayor’s plan to make London a healthier and more pleasant environment for all, however, some of the new transport requirements and proposals will have an adverse impact on the tourism industry when we should be ensuring that we make the experience for our international visitors as easy as possible.
“One of our smaller tour operator members have informed us that their operating licence fees alone will increase by 10,000% under the proposals. We are therefore urging the mayor to review the new requirements and put in place exemptions for driver guides/chauffeurs. A measure that would safeguard jobs in our valuable tourism industry.”