More than 400 million people visit London’s West End every year – and this number is growing. The tourism industry is undoubtedly critical to the capital’s economy.
With major global change on the horizon, how will tourism be affected and what will the impact be for London’s West End? This morning, tourism leaders joined us at the Royal Society of Chemistry for our members’ event, The Big Issues in Tourism for 2017 to identify the issues at the top of the industry agenda.
Cllr Robert Davis MBE DL, Deputy Leader of the Council and Cabinet Member for Business, Culture and Heritage gave the keynotes speech. He addressed the importance of keeping the West End safe and secure; the work of BIDs in promoting tourism, visitors and footfall; maintaining and enhancing the public realm and iconic locations to encourage tourism and investment; targeting key markets for tourism – both domestic and international; encouraging trade with companies in the West End contributing towards the growth of tourism; and the role of tourism in delivering employment across the West End – and the benefits to Westminster’s communities.
The discussion panel brought together Andrew Cooke – London & Partners’ Acting Chief Executive, Patricia Yates, Director, Strategy and Communications at VisitBritain and Brian Bickell, Chief Executive of Shaftesbury and Chairman of the UK China Visa Alliance who prioritised six industry issues for the year ahead:
The experts left our member guests with tangible advice to enable their success in the tough industry environment:
Brian Bickell, Chief Executive of Shaftesbury and Chairman of the UKCVA: London’s success must not breed complacency. As a destination for visitors and commerce, as well as a gateway to the UK, London’s contribution is critical to our national prosperity and profile. Government needs to acknowledge the important role of London’s visitor economy and invest and work with business to ensure the capital has the best access to the resources – human and financial – needed to sustain and grow London’s domestic and global appeal to visitors. Businesses must be in the forefront of helping Government recognise the challenges and bring practical solutions to the table.
Patricia Yates, Director of Strategy and Communications at VisitBritain: The UK Government’s Industrial Strategy will define its long-term support for industry and is an opportunity to set the ground work for the tourism sector of tomorrow. Government wants to back its winning industries for the long-term through business led ‘sector deals’ and VisitBritain wants a tourism sector deal which backs our average 3.8% growth over the coming decade and beyond.
Andrew Cooke, Acting Chief Executive of London and Partners: London’s tourism sector has delivered record-breaking growth and we project continued strong demand with millions of additional visitors adding billions to London’s economy over the next five years. But what took us here will not get us there. We now need to work better together to enable this demand – to sharpen our proposition, to secure the skills we need when the UK withdraws from the EU and to share the opportunity more widely across London. Those who think they can do this on their own will lose out.