Spending by tourists in central London is set to drop by a mammoth £10.9billion this year as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to new analysis published by the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan.
City Hall analysis of forecasts by VisitBritain show overseas tourists will spend £7.4billion less on goods and services in London’s economic and cultural centre throughout 2020, while domestic tourists will spend £3.5billion less.
This far outstrips the financial impact of the fall in commuters: City Hall estimates the loss in their spending will reach £1.9 billion – £1.4 billion from commuters living in London and £0.5 billion from those outside.
VisitBritain estimates the number of international visitors to the UK throughout 2020 will be 74 per cent fewer than in 2019, at 10.6 million. It also estimates that London as a whole will suffer from a reduction in international and domestic tourism spending, including transport revenue, of £20.7 billion in 2020 compared with 2019 levels.
The tourism industry is seen as a vital part of London’s social and economic life. The downturn in the sector has hit several other sectors that rely on the footfall, which includes the licensed taxi industry. Tourism accounts for as many as one in seven jobs in the capital and contributes almost 12 per cent of London’s GDP.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “This analysis shows the eye-watering drop in the money spent by visitors in the economic and cultural heart of the capital – which is far greater than even the impact of fewer commuters travelling into the centre of the city each day.
“Clearly, this will mean many businesses are in danger of closing and many thousands of jobs will be at risk.
“I’m determined to do all I can to support London’s economic recovery now, and in the years to come. But these sectors won’t be able to sustain pre-pandemic levels of employment until tourists return in significant numbers – so Government must act swiftly to prevent widespread job losses and the financial hardship this will bring for Londoners, many of whom are already struggling to make ends meet.
“The Government needs to get its act together and provide a functioning test and trace system so the economy can reopen safely.”