London’s Not Forgotten

By | Category: Travel rumblings

You might remember that CD-Traveller (23rd November 2011) mentioned that Visit London looked as though it would lose all its funding because nobody seemed to remember it when they created budgets to come into operation after the demise of its paymaster, the London Development Agency (LDA). As Denis facetiously commented at the time on our website, “makes you proud to be a Londoner.” A month on and Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, has ridden to the rescue finding £14 million pounds per annum for the next four years. Except it’s not quite that clear.
The funding is for a new, yet to be named, body that will merge three existing organisiations, Visit London, Think London (apparently this attracts inward investment) and Study London. (attracts students to London universities and colleges)
The working name is Promote London (yet another tourism sounding name that suggests other tourist destinations will change their names to Promote XX when they tire of their existing names) but Promote London has been around for a little while. There is a Promote London council chaired by Boris with 20 people on it, not one of them being a tourist professional. Yes a couple sit on tourist committees elsewhere but as for hard nosed people who know how to attract us and overseas visitors to the capital, forget it. But maybe Boris plans to remedy this. We don’t know yet how much of the £14 million will be for tourism. In the last financial report for Visit London they received £15,645,430 from the LDA so, if they were to get all of the £14 million they would be down by £1,645,430. But LDA gave (or invested is their word) £35.7 million to these three organisations plus another called Film London for what it calls “international promotion.” To get £14 million amongst the lot seems a huge cutback.
Tourism generated £10.55 billion for the capital according to the LDA annual report, £2.23 billion from domestic visitors like us. Achieving that from £14 million seems good value. To achieve the same or even more from a substantially smaller pie seems quite a task even for a slimmed down body.
Just as well then that it could celebrate last week then with what might have been its very last awards. He headlines were grabbed by Twiggy who received an outstanding achievement award and Alesha Dixon who got the very first Sound of London award. The Best Tourism Experience was given to London Zoo and the Best New Experience went to the V & A’s mediaeval and renaissance galleries. Hyde Park Winter Wonderland (seen on BBC Breakfast this morning won the Consumer Event of the Year. Of the awards called the People’s Choice, the Best Free Experience and the Best for Family Fun both went to the Natural History Museum. Covent Garden was voted the Best Gastronomic Experience and Les Miserables was voted Best West End Show. Makes you wonder why they didn’t announce the issues over the future of Visit London at this event.

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