News that the capital’s official tourism agency has waited four years to start work on a comprehensive tourism strategy has been described as “baffling” by one London Assembly member.
London and Partners was set up by Mayor Boris Johnson in 2011 to promote the city to tourists who are worth around £36bn to its economy and support thousands of jobs.
Tourist numbers received a boost from the 2012 Olympics and have continued to grow in recent years.
London and Partners’ website says its work is “to maintain and strengthen London’s position as one of the most popular visitor destinations in the world.”
However City Hall documents reveal that work “to develop a London Tourism Strategy” which will develop “a long-term vision” for the capital’s leisure and business tourism sectors is only now getting underway.
Despite London and Partners receiving more than £12m of public money each year, much of which it refuses to reveal how it spends, the organisation has asked the Mayor’s office for an additional £90,000 to develop the strategy.
A spokesperson insisted that the work was “beyond the current remit of London & Partners as the Mayor’s official promotional company” because it includes areas such as “product, skills and infrastructure.”
The spokesperson said the agency was one of a number of partners working together “to maximise the economic benefit that tourism brings to the capital” and defended asking for more public cash on the grounds that the work “will be in addition to London & Partners’ business plan”.
Liberal Democrat London Assembly member Stephen Knight said it was “baffling” that an overarching tourism strategy “has not already been put in place by London and Partners.”
Mr Knight added: “The number of tourists visiting London has soared in the last few years and it looks like this year will be another record year.
“However we can never be complacent in maintaining the role of tourism in London’s economy, especially as the bounce in tourism created by the 2012 Olympics will not last for ever.”