London tourism sector calls for urgent financial support to avert crisis
London’s tourism sector has urged the government to provide it with a specific package of support, warning the coronavirus pandemic could create an economic crisis for the industry.
In total 10,776 London attractions, restaurants, hotels, industry bodies and event organisers have written to the Prime Minister to call for investment and a plan for tourists to return to the capital.
The group, led by Madam Tussauds, London Eye and London Dungeons’ owner Merlin Entertainments, demanded a campaign to encourage visitors back to London with the “spend and scale” of those seen after terror attacks.
Among the demands were a year-long extension to the business rates holiday for tourism firms.
The letter also requested that the rates relief threshold be raised from £51,000 to £150,000 and that rent relief support is provided for at least nine months.
London tourism attractions, galleries and museums were forced to close during the government’s coronavirus lockdown, announced in March, with many missing crucial trading months.
London Eye general manager Sunny Jouhal said: “The measures announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer last week are hugely appreciated, but we now need to look further ahead to tackle future challenges.
“Tourism in the capital is in crisis due to three months of London effectively being closed, even with the ability for some businesses to reopen, the industry is already half-way through its peak season making it impossible for many across the sector to recover.”
He added: “London is practically empty and there is no concrete plan for recovery in place.
“If the UK Government does not act now, we will see one of the biggest missed opportunities on Britain’s road to recovery and prosperity.”
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Tourism is the second biggest employer in the capital after financial services, the group said.
Last year there were 40.9m overseas visitors to the UK, spending £28.4bn, with more than half of those visitors coming to London.