The City must once and for all leave behind its reputation for being just for work
The City used to be seen as a staid place where people simply came to work before going elsewhere to have fun. The reality today is a transformed Square Mile in terms of access to retail, hospitality and culture.
The next phase of this reinvention will kick off later this autumn with our a “Destination City” event, which will be a key milestone in the Square Mile’s recovery from the pandemic.
The City’s streets will be reimagined through a huge programme of theatre, games, and performance in October.
Three carnival-inspired fairs will also open up for discovery at iconic City locations including Guildhall and the Museum of London, with festival entertainment for everyone.
Importantly, it will also be a boon for City cafes, pubs, bars, and restaurants – many of which will host “after parties” so people can continue their evening after the event.
The City of London is already renowned as the world’s top financial hub. But we also need it to lead as a cultural and visitor centre.
Why? Because the capital needs to be an attractive visitor destination in order to compete globally, create jobs and growth, and draw the best talent.
London’s recovery will drive the national recovery, so we need to work harder than ever before to give people a compelling reason to choose to work, visit and invest in the City following the pandemic.
Leisure and culture are at the heart of this vision. The City must adapt to post-pandemic working trends by offering opportunities and experiences that are not available from home.
And it is easy to see why – just take a look at the figures.
Leisure and tourism play a vital part in London’s social and economic life. They support as many as one in seven jobs in the capital and contribute almost 12 per cent of London’s GDP.
City Hall analysis estimates that, by 2025, there will be 149.9 million domestic and international overnight stays in the capital spending £18.6bn, rising to 154.3 million spending £19.3bn by 2026.
London is a major driver for people visiting the UK – a way to benefit the whole country.
Indeed, visitors to the capital go on to spend over £640m in local economies outside of London. And prior to the pandemic, 15 per cent of overseas visitors to London came as part of a wider trip across Britain
Our latest initiative, backed with £2.5m annual investment, will revitalise our streets, reinvigorate our businesses, and support the UK’s economic recovery.
But we can and must do more, and the new London Museum will help attract new audiences from the UK and overseas when it opens at Smithfield General Market.
The City is also now more accessible than ever before, thanks to the new Elizabeth Line. So it is vital that we strike whilst the iron is hot. The line will bring an extra 1.5 million people to within a 45-minute commute of the Square Mile and its businesses, making it far easier for our small and local businesses, commuters, and visitors alike.
In short, we need leisure to be important for the City, and the City to be important for leisure – our future depends on it.