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London tourism gets £6m boost with new advertising campaign | London holidays

London’s tourist board has launched its biggest ever domestic marketing campaign to revive the capital’s devastated tourism sector.

The £6m project, called Let’s Do London, is designed to draw visitors from across the UK into central London and will involve a TV and poster campaign to promote cultural and sporting events taking place over the coming year.

Highlights include the immersive, interactive Van Gogh Alive show at Kensington Gardens, the Southbank Centre’s summer reunion programme of free outdoor activities over 15 consecutive weekends, and the Royal Albert Hall’s 150th anniversary celebrations. There will also be major new exhibitions at the V&A, Natural History Museum and British Museum, plus a series of summer and autumn festivals.

The pandemic led to a 64% fall in domestic tourism in London, from £17.5bn in 2019 to £6.3bn in 2020. The spend is predicted to rise to £8.5bn in 2021, still nowhere near 2019 levels.

“The campaign is a shot in the arm to help revive the capital’s ravaged visitor economy,” said Kate Nicholls, CEO of trade association UKHospitality. “With such limited international travel, the immediate priority is to remind Britons that one of the world’s top tourist destinations is on their doorstep. We look forward to working with the mayor and his office to revive employment, hospitality and tourism in London.”

Overall, UK domestic tourism revenue fell 63% in 2020, from £91.6bn in 2019 to £34bn, according to VisitBritain. It predicts domestic spend will rise to £51.4bn this year, 56% of the 2019 level.

“Inbound tourism is still likely to remain well below normal levels throughout the rest of the year and by the end of 2021 we still do not expect inbound tourism to be back to, or even close to, normal levels,” says Visit Britain’s Tourism Forecast report.

A lack of international visits and a preference among domestic holidaymakers for coastal and rural destinations means cities face an even longer and more challenging road to recovery.

In response, VisitBritain is running a second Escape the Everyday campaign this month, aimed at reviving city tourism across the UK as indoor attractions and hospitality start to reopen. The campaign first launched in September 2020 but was suspended after the number of Covid cases increased again in October, leading to a second lockdown in England in November and stricter measures in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

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