Memorandum submitted by the London Tourist
Board and Convention Bureau
(a) London Tourist Board and Convention
Bureau (LTB) is the official tourist organisation for Greater
London. It is financed by the Department for Culture Media and
Sport via the London Development Agency, London Borough Grants,
membership subscriptions and commercial activity. Currently it
has 850 members including London Boroughs, hotels, attractions,
restaurants, retailers, tour operators, transport providers, meetings
venues and event organisers. Its role is to promote and market
London as the most exciting city destination in the world and
to advocate quality improvements to tourism infrastructure and
(b) Tourism is vital to London's economy.
It is worth £8 billion per annum and represents 8 per cent
of the City's GDP. More than 275,000 London residents are employed
by the tourism industry. More than 28 million people visit London
each year14 million from within the UK and 14 million from
overseas. The primary overseas markets for London are the US (2.7
million visitors) followed by France (1.2 million) and Germany
(c) London has a unique gateway role in
British tourism, 70 per cent of overseas visitors arrive in London
and 20 per cent of overseas visitors to London travel on to other
parts of the country. London accounts for 50 per cent of expenditure
by overseas visitors in the UK.
2. Impact of Foot and Mouth Disease
(a) The London tourist industry initially
reported little impact from the foot and mouth outbreak. However,
as the peak tourism season approaches, the industry in general
is reporting a decline in business and there is now a marked reduction
in forward bookings, primarily from overseas, in the hotel and
(b) London is affected because:
inaccurate reporting around the world
has led to negative perceptions about Britain in general, particularly
in London's prime overseas market, the USA; and
it is the gateway to the rest of
the UK and both day and longer stay visits outside London are
being drastically curtailed.
(c) A recent survey of LTB's 850 members
shows that the hardest hit sector is hotels, with 43 per cent
reporting a significant impact. Visitor attractions are faring
slightly better with only 16 per cent reporting significant impact.
In 2001, there is the potential for a 15-20 per cent drop in visitor
numbers, which could mean a potential loss in London of direct
tourism revenue of some £1.6 billion. The consequential multiplier
effect of a loss of this magnitude will be considerable.
(d) While LTB acknowledges that parts of
the rural economy have suffered greater relative losses of business
than London, such is the pre-eminence of London in the UK's overseas
tourism receipts, that London is equally damaged by ill-informed
perceptions and the major impact of foot and mouth across the
country. In financial terms, the current downturn of business
in London will be as significant as in other areas.
3. Action by LTB
(a) LTB is surveying its members on an ongoing
basis to monitor the economic impact of foot and mouth. This will
be a challenging year for the industry as the foot and mouth outbreak
has coincided with a downturn in the US economy. In addition,
over the last few years perceptions in Europe of London as an
expensive destination have increased due to the relative weakness
of the Euro against the pound.
(b) LTB has taken steps to alleviate the
misperceptions of Britain in the USA. Teresa Wickham, Chairman
of the LTB, was in New York from 2-6 April 2001, meeting with
the BTA, travel industry leaders and travel/consumer media. There
is a great deal of confusion in the market regarding the facts
of foot and mouth and what is open in Britain. Food safety is
also a key issue. Both media and travel trade believe that it
is vital that US visitors are given incentives to travel this
(c) LTB is implementing a comprehensive
communications campaign both within the UK and overseas. LTB is
working with its members to promote value-added packages and incentives
for people to holiday here and will feed through special offers
to BTA and to the US media. However, discounting should not be
the only focus as the long-term effects of price reductions could
further damage the industry.
(d) LTB has generated sustained coverage
of the issue in local, national and international media, including
regular broadcast interviews on BBC News Room South East, London
Today/Tonight, LBC Radio and BBC London Live. Ongoing media exposure
enhances the message that London is unaffected by foot and mouth,
encouraging people to travel to Britain, and highlights the importance
of the tourism industry in London. Other activity has included
working with the Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, on a media
event to mark the start of the peak tourism season on 19 April
(e) LTB has been given £75,000 by ETC
for a domestic campaign to encourage short break visitors to London.
The campaign will focus on regional media relations and distribution
of a "Summer in the City" leaflet, produced in conjunction
with a major domestic tour operator and distributed through supermarkets
across the UK.
(f) LTB worked with BTA on last week's Tourism
Leaders' Summit and LTB is working closely with ETC and BTA on
national and international recovery plans, reinforcing London's
unique role as a gateway to the rest of the UK. Substantial marketing
funds are required to restore confidence in Britain as a destination.
(a) LTB continues to work with all sections
of the tourist industry and bodies such as the BTA and ETC to
ensure a co-ordinated approach to this situation. The Government's
role should be to support this work and provide a major injection
of funding for marketing not only during this crucial period but
also in the medium to longer term, to restore confidence in Britain
as a tourist destination once the crisis has subsided. The Government
must take decisive action now to assist the tourism industry in
maximising its communications programme to counteract rapid decline
in business over summer 2001.
(b) LTB would submit to the Committee that
it should recommend strongly to Government that it funds a major
relaunch of UK tourism once the foot and mouth crisis has passed.
LTB will work with its private sector members in particular to
raise matched marketing funds. It has successfully done this over
the last five years under the "Focus London" project
funded by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and believes
that co-ordinated and creative marketing activity, reaching threshold
levels to gain impact in key markets, is crucial in the increasingly
competitive world tourism industry.