The COVID-19 pandemic has meant that many people have had to stay indoors in the UK. Multiple lockdowns have led to the relinquishment of various pleasures, including holidays both within the country’s borders and to other foreign destinations. However, as Prime Minister Boris Johnson unveiled his lockdown easing roadmap, a surge in holiday bookings were experienced by travel agents.
The United Kingdom has experienced a successful vaccine rollout so far, making it one of the world leaders in such. With this being the case, many people who have had it rejoiced at the thought of being able to go away on holiday once the summer months roll around. Of course, many people have chosen to stay within the UK borders for their summer holiday. Others have opted to visit other countries, and even a vaccine travel pass will be ready for potential use in these situations.
However, it is quite key to wonder how the UK itself will benefit from tourism is 2021. Will the capital be able to recoup its losses successfully enough? And if so, how will it do this? Doubtless, London has suffered at the hands of the lockdowns and coronavirus measures that have had to be introduced in its various shops and so on. Central London has quite the challenge ahead of it, having suffered a rapid reduction in footfall due to the pandemic.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan published an interim report into the challenges, as well as the opportunities for the area. Many businesses and jobs in London are facing quite the existential threat, thanks to the growth in people working from home and the need to socially distance and other restrictions. That report does also state that the central London ecosystem is well-placed to recover strongly, as long as the right policies are put in place.
London has a large reliance on visitors, which presents a bigger challenge than various other major cities like Paris or New York. A lower number of people actually live in the heart of London, with workers and tourists actually being central to its success. Consumer spending by overseas tourists in London was £7.4 billion lower than usual in 2020. Domestic tourists will have spent £3.5 billion less, while commuters spent £1.9 billion less than the previous year.
First the Vaccine, Then the Footfall
Khan believes that once the vaccine has been widely administered throughout the UK and the world, the UK will require the largest tourism campaign that has ever been seen. A particular focus will be placed on London for this, which is a huge draw for international travellers. In a bid to get footfall up in the capital city, certain highlights will likely be promoted through such. And not just options like the London Eye or The Tower of London, either.
London can recoup some of its losses through lesser thought of routes, including the Hippodrome Casino, which is one of the top UK land-based casinos. This has been a huge moneymaker for the capital city in years past, drawing crowds of people in every day. Previous figures saw that in 2018, the casino’s annual revenue stood at £76.5 million. While that was a 2% fall in comparison to 2017, increased regulatory and political pressure in the UK, as well as slow economic growth and weakened consumer confidence due to Brexit, were blamed.
Even though that was the case, it did experience an increase in customer footfall for that same year. 1.7 million people were recorded as having visited the Hippodrome in 2018 – an increase of 4% on the previous year. There is little doubt that it has the appeal for tourists, both domestic and foreign. Therefore, it could very much be one of the key elements that brings people back to London in 2021.
Fortunately, the Hippodrome, which is one of the top UK land-based casinos has been able to provide gaming services to players through its online website. As with many other land-based casinos in operations, they also have an online counterpart to cater to players and they also make use of generous casino bonuses to attract new players. With the lockdown forcing the physical establishments into closure, the online casinos have been somewhat of a haven not only for players, but for the operators themselves, too.
London’s West End a Key Factor
The West End of London is another huge draw for the capital city. Jace Tyrrell, the Chief Executive at New West End Company, spoke of the pandemic wiping out a year of trading for businesses in the West End. Khan has called for the government to continue the business rates freeze beyond April 2021, in the hope that it will lead to an eventual reform of the antiquated tax system in place. Tyrrell has spoken of his and the West End’s complete support of this rates freeze and has vowed that COVID will not see the end of the West End.
Businesses and locals in the area have rallied to protect the future of what is described as one of London’s global hubs. “A bright future ahead”, is how Tyrrell described the West End, but only if it obtains the right support from the Government during its recovery. Additional financial aid provided by the Government combined with Westminster City Council’s £150 million Oxford Street District transformation project, and new investment from a mix of occupiers, could see the West End flourish once again.
It contributes so much to the economy of London and the United Kingdom, that it would be foolish to not place a lot of faith in the West End. The hope remains strong for this, the Hippodrome and various other appealing sectors of Central London to help drive a returning tourism sector.