Mayor's new plan to halt underselling of London's cultural riches

25 March 2015

The Mayor of London Boris Johnson today unveiled his vision to build on London's success as a top destination for culture hungry visitors. Four out of five travellers say culture is their main reason for coming to London and a new report published this week shows cultural tourists spent £7.3 billion in 2013, generating £3.2 billion for our economy and supporting 80,000 jobs in the capital. London's top 20 attractions account for 90 per cent of visits by tourists, but the success of events and attractions like Secret Cinema, which draws almost 50 per cent of it audience from outside the capital, and the weekend crowds heading to places like Brick Lane and Borough Market, suggest tourists also have an appetite for more local and niche activities that will provide more 'authentic' cultural experiences. The Mayor of believes more needs to be done to maximise the full potential of culture in the capital. His vision is to enable it to increase its economic impact further, creating jobs and, in a hugely competitive global market for international travellers, ensuring the future sustainability of cultural organisations both large and small, all over the city. The Mayor of London Boris Johnson said: 'Cultural tourism generates billions for our economy, but we are up against other great destinations like New York, Paris, Amsterdam and Berlin who are also competing for the attentions of the savvy traveller. We celebrate our world-class museums, galleries, theatres and concert halls in the heart of the city, but we must stop underselling the cornucopia of other cultural riches to be found right across the capital. 'I want more visitors to experience London as the glorious garden of culture we as Londoners know it to be. We want them to enjoy the giant oak trees of our world-class major cultural institutions, but also to dig deeper into the undergrowth and savour the wild flowers of our quirkier and more off-beat attractions.' Around 1,000 Londoners recently responded to a poll asking them to choose a hidden cultural gem they would recommend to a tourist. The survey produced a diverse array of responses, from Denis Severs' House in Folgate Street E2 to the antique shops in Lillie Road, Fulham; from the Isabella Plantation in Richmond Park to the Bussey Building in Peckham; and from the William Morris Gallery in Walthamstow, to the Oval Theatre in Lambeth. Parks, historic pubs and pie and mash shops also appeared, but the suggestions barely scratch the surface. City Hall is now working with the capital's promotional agency London and Partners, Visit Britain, the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions and cultural leaders to investigate how partnerships, collaborative working and more effective use of marketing and resources can be used to promote more of what London has to offer tourists wanting to spread their cultural net more widely. There is a powerful economic case, with the potential for more tourists spending locally – and wanting to return. Gordon Innes, CEO of London & Partners, said: 'London is home to some of the world's most famous big institutions with an incredibly rich and diverse cultural offering. They are central to why overseas visitors come here. Promoting the breadth of these cultural riches to the millions of international visitors coming to London each year is central to the work of London & Partners.' Munira Mirza, Deputy Mayor for Education and Culture, said: 'It is vital that we keep reinvigorating the London experience. As important as iconic symbols of London are in the promotion of London, it is not sustainable to keep recycling stereotypes of Bobbies, Beefeaters and bowler hats. From rooftop cinema shows to immersive theatre in unusual locations we want to create a bigger cultural bucket list of experiences that adds to our great institutions. We want visitors to feel they are getting a trip that is unique to them, that will make them want to return.' Chris Macleod, Marketing Director, Transport for London, said: 'Our research has shown that most visitors currently stay within zones 1 and 2, especially during their first stay in the city. We want more visitors to explore the breadth of London's exciting cultural offer. London's expansive and efficient public transport network provides visitors with the means to travel across all areas of the capital, experience its cultural gems and make every visit unforgettable.' Bernard Donoghue, Chief Executive of the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions (ALVA) and Chair of the London International Festival of Theatre (LIFT) said: 'Visitors come for authentic experiences that transcend tick-list sightseeing. ALVA's members focus on authenticity; immersive experiences as the means to best engage with people; provide a fun day out; and ensure a great visitor experience. 'Money can't buy' immersive experiences are becoming more popular as they are perceived as being of high cultural and emotional value; they foster camaraderie amongst the small groups who experience them and have a 'brag-ability' value to the participants.' • 'Take a Closer Look – A Cultural Tourism Vision for London' can be downloaded from: www.london.gov.uk/culturaltourism • An Evening Standard poll asking Londoners to recommend a hidden cultural gem took place in February 2015. It received 974 suggestions. The ones that received the most number of recommendations were as follows:  Sir John Soane's Museum  Walking along the Thames / Thames Path / beaches of the Thames  Wallace Collection  The Temple – area – Inner and Middle  Postmans Park  Horniman Museum  Wilton's Music Hall  Denis Severs House  Pie and mash shops  Fulham Palace/Bishops' Park Fulham  Little Venice  Kyoto Gardens in Holland Park  Leighton House Kensington  Isabella Plantation, Richmond Park  Kenwood House  Geffrye Museum  Chelsea Physic Garden  Fan Museum  William Morris Gallery  The Guildhall • Headline findings from the 'Value of Cultural Tourism to London' report (GLA Economics Current Issues Note 44) below. Full report attached and via http://bit.ly/1G4Jy8A Key numbers • In 2013, cultural tourism was worth £3.2 billion to London's economy and supported 80,000 jobs in the capital (Source: GLA Economics calculations) . • Therefore just under a third (31.4 per cent) of all tourism in London (i.e. through international tourism, UK overnight visitors and day visitors) is attributable to culture. Additional statistics Tourism Surveys • There were 16.8 million international visitors to the capital in 2013, spending £11.3 billion. Data for the first three quarters of 2014 show a growth of 5.8 per cent in the number of visitors to London, compared to the first three quarters of 2013. (Source: International Passenger Survey)  It is expected that when data for the final quarter of 2014 are released, it will be a record year for international tourism in London • Over the last ten years, there has been faster growth in both the number of international visitors and their spend, in London compared to the UK as a whole • London is forecast to be the most visited city in the world in 2014 (Source: MasterCard Global Destination Cities Index) • In 2013, a total of £23.3 billion was spent by international visitors, and UK overnight and day visitors in London. • Data from the Annual Survey of Visits to Visitor Attractions, found that 89 per cent of all visits to visitor attractions in London are to the top 20 attractions. 7 of the top 10; and 12 of the top 20 attractions in London are free to entry. • Data from the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions for 2014 show that 9 of the top 10 visitor attractions in 2014 were in London. London's Tourism Economy • Based on data from the Office for National Statistics, it is estimated that the tourism direct GVA of London (as a destination); i.e. the economic impact of tourism to London as a destination, was £10.0 billion in 2013. • Tourism in London supports 278,000 jobs in the capital in 2013, an increase of 1.7 per cent on the year previous and an increase of 16.7 per cent compared to 2009. (Source: GLA Economics calculations)