Bosses representing thousands of London attractions, restaurants and hotels and event organisers have urged Boris Johnson to help avert a huge tourism crisis.
They have written to the Prime Minister as part of the launch of the “SOS London” campaign which calls for investment and a “clear strategic plan” to welcome back visitors.
Sunny Johal, general manager of the lastminute.com London Eye, and one of the signatories of the letter, said: “The measures announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer last week are hugely appreciated, but we now need to look further ahead to tackle future challenges.
“Tourism in the capital is in crisis due to three months of London effectively being closed, even with the ability for some businesses to reopen, the industry is already half-way through its peak season making it impossible for many across the sector to recover.
“We’re launching SOS London with a wide selection of industry partners to take collective action and ensure the London tourism sector survives.
“London is practically empty and there is no concrete plan for recovery in place. If the UK Government does not act now, we will see one of the biggest missed opportunities on Britain’s road to recovery and prosperity.”
The signatories together represent 10,776 businesses in a sector second only to financial services as an employer in London.
They include attractions operator Merlin Entertainments, which runs Madame Tussauds and the London Dungeon, trade body UKHospitality, as well as individual businsees such as the Rosewood Hotel in Holborn, the Thames Clippers boat service, and Fabric London nightclub in Farringdon.
The campaign, launched today at the London Eye, demands “immediate government intervention to save London’s tourism sector with a strategic capital-city-specific roadmap to recovery”, a major publicity drive on the same scale as that delivered after the 7/7 terrorist attacks, an extension to the business rates holiday for one year, an increase of the Business Rate Relief threshold from £51,000 to £150,000 and at least nine months’ rent relief support.
Florence Eshalomi, Labour MP for Vauxhall, said: “While the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s announcement is welcome, I’m very concerned that it does not go far enough.
“Having spoken to a diverse range of business owners in my Vauxhall constituency, the fact remains that cafes, restaurants, hotels and attractions are struggling to keep their business afloat. If the government does not take immediate action, the long-term prosperity of the area will be under threat and we risk losing fantastic businesses people know and love. The London tourism industry is fundamental to the economic recovery of the capital”.