University of London - Knowledge Quarter

Mayor unveils new plan to halt underselling of London’s cultural riches

The Mayor of London Boris Johnson has 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.

‘A Cultural Tourism Vision for London’ can be downloaded from: