adiq Khan has begun a five-day trip of the US to support London’s economic recovery from the pandemic.
He was arriving in New York on Sunday in a cross-Atlantic mission aiming to revitalise the capital’s appeal to US tourists.
He will launch London’s biggest-ever tourism campaign in Times Square – a £10m promotions package with £7m targeting international visitors and £3m the domestic market – and meet a series of VIPs in New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Hollywood.
The capital’s economy lost £7.4bn normally generated by international tourists in 2020. Pre-pandemic, about 21m foreigners a year would visit London.
Mr Khan will then fly to the West Coast, where he and about 15 founders of London tech start-ups will head to Silicon Valley in a bid to lure US investors.
There will be meetings with Google and LinkedIn before the mayor heads to Hollywood to promote the London film industry.
Mr Khan said: “I am visiting America this week, banging the drum for London to attract the tourism and investment our city needs following the pandemic. I want to show the world that London is fully open for business once again.
“Now that restrictions for travellers coming to the UK have lifted, I am looking forward to launching our international tourism campaign and showcasing our amazing city to America and the world.
“Throughout my visit, my main message will be that London is the perfect destination in the world for international tourists to visit and businesses to invest in.”
The Mayor will meet his counterpart Eric Adams, the mayor of New York City, and then launch his international tourist campaign in Times Square.
Passengers on the New York subway are still required to wear face masks, and observance with the rules is high. There have been more than 40,000 covid deaths in New York City – double the number in London.
The new campaign will be led by the City Hall-funded business and tourism agency London & Partners.
The mayor will then travel to San Francisco to strengthen links between London’s burgeoning tech sector and companies in Silicon Valley, including Google and LinkedIn.
Mr Khan last visited the US and Canada in September 2016, four months after first being elected mayor.
Tourism accounts for as many as one in five jobs in London and contributes almost 12 per cent of the city’s gross domestic product.
Asked recently what he was doing to address concerns that London’s tourism industry may not recover until the middle of the decade, Mr Khan said the campaign would “target visitors with a propensity to stay longer and spend more”.
Last year’s Let’s Do London campaign, which targeted the UK market, is credited with generating an additional £81 million in spending by attracting 330,000 visitors to the capital.
Mr Khan and his aides are travelling to and within the US courtesy of United Airlines, which has also provided free flights for the Evening Standard and other UK journalists accompanying the mayor.
During his first mayoral term, Mr Khan followed his visit to the US and Canada with a trip to India and Pakistan in 2017. He also made short visits to Berlin, Paris and Dublin in 2018 and Brussels in February 2020.
Firms invited to join this week’s mission include blockchain company Aventus, animation production company Blue Zoo and Subly, which specialises in video subtitling. Rajesh Agrawal, the deputy mayor for business, is also on the trip.
In San Francisco, Mr Khan will be joined by 10 female founders from the Beyond HERizons programme led by London & Partners, including MyPocketSkill, which helps young Londoners to earn, save and learn about money, and Chicmi, a “social movement” for fashion.
Improving air quality and city-led initiatives to tackle the climate crisis will also be on the agenda, as a result of Mr Khan being the chairman of the C40 “green world cities” campaign.