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The platinum jubilee celebrations and giant open-air gigs by Adele, Ed Sheeran, Elton John and the Rolling Stones should convince UStourists that now is the time to visit London, Sadiq Khan said on Monday.
The mayor was unveiling a £10m international tourism campaign in New York’s Times Square and urged Americans to look to the capital for a “good time” to help get over the two years of the pandemic.
Accompanied by the Coldstream Guards, a black London taxi, red phone boxes and the cast of the Broadway hit Six the Musical – based on the six wives of Henry VIII, which is also playing in the West End – Mr Khan unashamedly based his pitch on the capital’s royal heritage and cultural icons.
“We know the Americans love Her Majesty, the royal family,” he told the Standard. “They love our historical landmarks. The idea is to say to Americans: it’s been a hard two years. You need a good time. Come to London this year, the platinum jubilee year.
“There are great gigs from Hyde Park to Wembley – from the Rolling Stones to Adele to Elton John to Ed Sheeran. There is great theatre, from Mark Rylance to Amy Adams in London’s West End. It’s going to be a great, great time to come to London.”
The “takeover” of Times Square was aiming to stop the traffic in the heart of Broadway.
More than three million Americans a year visited London prior to the pandemic, and Mr Khan has put kick-starting cross-Atlantic tourism at the heart of his five-day trade mission to the States.
Pre-covid, London was the third most visited city in the world.
Tourism accounted for up to one in five jobs, according to City Hall.
A new promotional video celebrating London’s comeback and showcasing some of the best the capital has to offer has also been released today to promote the city as place to live, work and visit.
Defending himself against critics who say his time would be better spent behind a desk at City Hall, Mr Khan said: “Our city needs me banging the drum for London.
“Why? Because in 2020, when international tourism collapsed, we lost about £10.7bn from our economy.
“That is not just money lost, that is jobs lost as well. We need those jobs back and that investment back.”
Laura Citron, chief executive at London & Partners, which runs Visit London, said: “We’ve heard loud and clear from our partners in London that they are open for business and ready to welcome back international visitors with open arms.”
Neil Constable, chief executive of Shakespeare’s Globe, said: “This campaign is a fantastic way to get the message out that London is open and has so much to offer.”
Mr Khan met 20 New York business leaders at a private dinner on Sunday night hosted by former city mayor Mike Bloomberg.
The mayor departs for San Francisco on Monday night, followed by Los Angeles later this week.
He will meet executives at Google and LinkedIn, address students at Stanford university and will introduce founders of London-based tech start-ups to potential investors in Silicon Valley.