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New analysis by London First shows how £13bn is generated by international tourists across London

May 14, 2019 Visit Europe No Comments Email Email

The first borough-by-borough analysis of the impact of international visitor spending in London, by the business campaign group London First – in partnership with Airbnb, Mastercard and EY – has revealed that it’s not just Big Ben, the London Eye and Madame Tussauds that bring in the tourist pound. The London economy receives £13bn gross value added (GVA) from overseas tourism, with a fifth of spending now taking place in 19 boroughs outside central London.

A new report out today (Thursday), ‘Tourist Information: Mapping the local value of international visitors’, from London First and EY, based on insights from Mastercard and Airbnb data, reveals that £2.8bn is being spent each year around TfL fare zones 2-3, in a “halo zone” of boroughs including Tower Hamlets, Islington, Camden, Greenwich and Hackney.

Produced using insights derived from aggregated and anonymous merchant transaction data provided by Mastercard, aggregated and anonymised data on accommodation provided by Airbnb and economic analysis by EY, the report creates a unique, borough-by-borough visualisation of the spending and travel trends of London’s international visitors.

International tourism is vital to London – strengthening the capital’s reputation as an open and welcoming city and contributing £13bn to the economy. The capital’s overall tourism industry (from both domestic and international visitors) is already responsible for 1 in 7 of all jobs and contributes £36 billion a year, according to publicly available data sources also included in the analysis.

The analysis reveals that growing international tourism in the “halo zone” by just 10% would generate an additional £268m to the London economy and create over six thousand new jobs. In addition, 70% of international visitors to London staying on Airbnb choose to stay in the “halo zone”, with just under half (46%) of London’s hotel guests staying here.

Jasmine Whitbread, chief executive of London First said: “International tourism is a boon to the capital, contributing billions to the UK economy and strengthening London’s reputation as an open and welcoming global city.

“This first-of-its-kind analysis reveals an even bigger prize to be had if visitors can be encouraged to stay longer and explore beyond the well-trodden tourist trail – from Peckham Rye in the south to Broadway Market in the east – opening up a world of opportunity for local neighbourhoods and [their] businesses.

“Ensuring London remains a top global travel destination will require further investment in the transport network and in the UK’s airport capacity. And it’s clear that better, city-wide data will also help us better market the capital overseas as a global travel destination, with businesses, boroughs and tourists all standing to benefit.”

The report reveals the economic benefits that encouraging international tourists to explore their local London neighbourhood could generate – with some boroughs already having reason to celebrate. Key findings include:

  • International tourism generated £1.2bn for Camden businesses in 2017, and supported 28,412 jobs
  • In Hackney, it was £94m and 2,241 jobs; in Tower Hamlets, £221m and 5,264 jobs
  • Westminster and Kensington and Chelsea are still where most tourist spending takes place: over £10bn in 2017
  • The outer London boroughs – roughly TfL zones 4-6 – generated £389m from international tourists in 2017, which supports 9,000 jobs. Most of this spend was centred around Heathrow
  • The shops, pubs and restaurants of local high streets have most to gain. For instance, Broadway Market in Hackney attracts consistent levels of international transactions, which peak every weekend – at 8-12 times the London average – thanks to the thriving Saturday street market.

Caroline Artis, London Senior Partner, EY says: “We are very excited about this report because it demonstrates how the public and private sectors can bring their insight, data and experience together to maximise the opportunities that the tourism sector brings to London. This will in return benefit all of the city’s boroughs and help inform smart decisions about where to focus efforts and resources in the future.

Tourism is vital to London’s economy, not only in attracting international visitors to the city but also in job growth and creation. In addition, the sector provides opportunities for Londoners at every stage of their career from entry level jobs to senior management positions.”

The data shows clearly the positive impact of tourism on neighbourhoods, local and small businesses and borough high streets. It also makes it possible to better understand the needs and interests of visitors from certain countries and to identify spikes in spend by tourists on specific cultural, sporting and foodie events in the outer London boroughs, highlighting the benefits of these types of experiences to the city. Key findings include:

  • Peak spending by visitors from the USA is June and July; whereas Chinese tourists spend more around Golden Week
  • German visitors take advantage of the city across all seasons, especially in the autumn and in the run-up to Christmas
  • People from Germany, Italy and Holland who stay in Airbnb listings prefer to stay in zones 2-3 (78%; 73%; 77% respectively); compared to 63% of visitors from China and 68% from Canada

Scott Abrahams, Senior Vice President of Business Development at Mastercard UK, said: “Our insights show that London is Europe’s most visited city by international travellers and tourists, which offers real opportunities for the city and its businesses to take advantage of their custom. By helping to map the impact of tourism spending on local merchants, we are helping city leaders make better and faster planning and resource management decisions that will offer a rich and personalised experience for visitors and residents. Equally, for businesses it acts as guide into what tourists are really interested in, and where they ultimately chose to spend their money.”

Hadi Moussa, Airbnb, Country Manager UK and Northern Europe, said: “Tourism is an economic engine for London and Airbnb helps spread its benefits to real Londoners. We’re proud to help guests from around the world discover the true beating heart of the capital in our diverse communities and local hidden gems, while building new economies for communities that visitors sometimes miss and that haven’t previously benefited from tourism. As tourism continues to grow, we will continue to work with everyone to ensure the entire city is open and that everyone has the opportunity to benefit from visitors to the place they call home.”

Laura Citron, CEO London & Partners, the Mayor’s official promotional agency for London said: “I am delighted that this data shows clearly that international visitors are exploring the many exciting neighbourhoods outside of central London.

“These results validate our strategy to encourage sustainable tourism across the entire city. Our tourism marketing targets international visitors who we know are interested in exploring beyond London’s traditional tourist hotspots. We promote the fantastic experiences across London’s boroughs, collaborating with local bloggers on insider tips, hidden gems and inspiring itineraries. Recent Visit London activity includes the Mayor’s London Borough of Culture initiative and a successful partnership with the Royal Borough of Greenwich.”

Such detailed information on areas for growth as is shown in the report can be used to inform a data-driven approach to investments in tourism infrastructure, transportation, local events and focused marketing. London’s policymakers must enable continued innovation to increase data sharing, from open access data through to public-private partnerships to help to make this a reality.

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