Reopening and Recovery Manifesto
London needs a recovery plan with considered, consistent and clear communications
- Our great capital is asleep, and we need a robust and ambitious plan from government to reawaken central London and bring it roaring back to life.
- Support and investment must go further to help central London, which has been hardest hit due to its reliance on high-volume footfall from tourists and workers.
- London’s West End’s footfall has fallen 92% in the past year, a troubling insight into a normally bustling global city centre that employs 500,000 people and, in normal times, welcomes more than 200 million visitors a year.
- As a representative for some of the UK’s best-known organisations with over 600 members, HOLBA has no doubt that central London will come back to life. But there is real uncertainty about how soon.
- International visitors – who spend 5x as much as domestic visitors – are unlikely to return this year and until then we will be reliant on domestic visitors and workers.
- To attract them, we need a public transport system that is safe, reliable, and affordable, and a lifestyle offer that is better than ever before, backed up by investment in central London’s culture and heritage.
- The government’s agenda to level up the regions can only happen with a prosperous London.
- London will bounce back, but government has a choice around how quickly that happens: leave it to the market to find a path back to recovery, or help drive and fast track that recovery with a dedicated, ambitious, and well-funded plan.
Considerations for London’s recovery plan
For transport to be an enabler and not a barrier
- Promote a safe, affordable and accessible transport offering
- Congestion charge easing
- Reopening of the night tube
- Flexible ticketing options for visitors and workers
- Discounted or incentivised travel into London
- Opening of the Elizabeth Line on time and at no extra cost to business
- TfL station modernisation and step free access for Piccadilly Circus and Leicester Square
- Investment in EV rapid charging infrastructure
- Improved cycling facilities
- Pedicab regulation in Westminster
- A longer-term financial support package for Transport for London
Encouraging domestic tourists into the capital
- Arts and culture specific incentive schemes and vouchers
- Return of customer incentives for hospitality
- Discount or value bundles offers for visitors outside London
Return of the workforce
- Government has an important role in driving this return and supporting central London’s recovery
- If the 21st of June date proposed by Government for lifting Rule of 6 / two households restrictions on indoor mixing is also the confirmed timeline for the return of office workers, we need encouragement by Government with a clear and consistent message to help businesses communicate this to employees confidently
- The language used should not just be about a return to the office – we should promote the return as a return to doing business, and a boost to creativity and productivity
- TfL and train operating companies should adjust their ticketing to reflect the fact that many workers will not be returning to a 5-day commute
- Employees should also be encouraged to make the most of their days in central London and experience what’s on offer
Return of international business and tourism
- International visitors are unlikely to return this year. Most experts estimate that international tourist numbers will not return to 2019 levels until 2023 at the earliest
- But Government should do all it can to accelerate that – these visitors spend five times more than local visitors and workers
- This means we need globally competitive budgets and plans to promote London globally as a place to visit and to do business in
- Government should introduce quicker, easier visas for HNW visitors
- Government should also reconsider the decision to end tax-free shopping, which was a significant draw factor for international tourists
Investment in London’s jewels
- Arts & Culture – a government backed insurance scheme for live events
- Entertainment and the night-time economy – increased flexibility in licensing
- Heritage – investment in retrofitting building to improve their environmental performance
- Retail – introduction of temporary extended Sunday trading hours
- Investment in priority public realm projects, to level up the whole West End
- Increased flexibility in planning permission and the use of vacant space
- Business rates reform that acknowledges the elevated cost of doing business in Central London
London also needs the reassurance that, should the worst happen and COVID restrictions need to stay in place or be reintroduced, Government will be there and ready to support business for as long as this support is needed.