Sadiq Khan used his formal signing-in ceremony for his second term as London Mayor this morning to reveal his cunning plan to revive the capital’s economy post-covid: tourism.
Mayor Khan announced a £6million advertising campaign to encourage tourists back to the city – though notably there were only a few City Hall flunkies and a handful of media at the Globe Theatre on the South Bank, and no hordes of adoring supporters, because of continuing restrictions due to coronavirus.
The ad campaign is to be aimed at the rest of Britain, encouraging visitors to the tourist sights in central London and for them to take “staycations” – also reflecting the continuing uncertainties and health concerns surrounding international travel.
Mayor Khan’s “Let’s Do London” ad campaign will promote events from the delayed Euro 2020 football tournament to a David Hockney exhibition at the Royal Academy. City Hall is promising “the biggest domestic tourism campaign the capital has ever seen” to help London’s economy get back on its feet as covid restrictions are eased.
Khan was signed in as London Mayor following what even the Evening Boris today described as “a comprehensive victory over Tory rival Shaun Bailey” in last Thursday’s London elections. The elections had been delayed by 12 months because of the covid-19 pandemic, so that after five years in office, Khan’s second term will be only three years.
But if Khan ever wants a second job as a tour guide, he will need to brush up on the accuracy of his spiel. He called the venue for this morning’s ceremony the “historic Shakespeare’s Globe”, which of course is pish and nonsense. The venue is a (very well done) 1990s pastiche, on or near the site of William Shakespeare’s original theatre; it is certainly not “historic”. Though there might be some tourists gullible enough to fall for such nonsense.
The venue itself is emblematic of the organisational issues facing London’s entertainment sector. When the Globe re-opens, with A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream from May 19, the Elizabethan era-style “groundlings” – standing spectators in front of the stage – will be missing, as the theatre will have to have distanced seating for another six weeks or so.
Khan’s immediate focus will be on revitalising the cultural and hospitality sectors. Pubs and restaurants are expected to be able to have customers inside from next Monday, May 17, and some patrons can return to theatres and cinemas.
As part of the Mayor’s promotional plan, there will be a series of one-off events, outdoor film screenings and late-night openings under the London Lates initiative, intended to ease social distancing.
David Hockney has redesigned the London Tube roundel as “Hockney Circus” in a special artwork that can be seen at Piccadilly Circus Station from Monday, as the West End is turned into a huge outdoor art gallery, with other exhibits including Asphalt Art by designer Yinka Ilori, and a living forest planted at Somerset House by artist Es Devlin for this year’s London Design Biennale.
Road crossings and street furniture in the city centre will be redesigned in a partnership involving Royal Academy artists.
London Fashion Week, Frieze London, the London Design Festival, and the 65th BFI London Film Festival will return in the autumn.
“The work begins anew today to refresh and reignite our city and to kick-start our economy as London continues to reopen,” Mayor Khan said.
“This is about getting the message out to Londoners and people across the country that our capital stands ready to entertain, inspire and enthral once again.
“With restrictions on international travel likely to continue this year, Londoners and visitors from the UK have a unique opportunity to experience all the capital has to offer without the queues.
“My mission over the next three years is to put the dark days of the pandemic behind us.”
And the London Mayor who stood up to Donald Trump’s dog-whistle racism when he was President of the United States issued this message to all Londoners: “Whether you voted for me or not, I firmly believe in the principle of democracy and I intend to continue being a Mayor for all Londoners – working hard to improve the lives of every single person in our city, regardless of your borough or background, race or religion, postcode or political affiliation.
“This is my promise to you: to deliver a brighter future for London and to stand up for London. And to make sure that this city – the greatest city in the world – comes roaring back to life after this pandemic.
“I’m confident that together, we will be able to get our city back on its feet, our economy firing on all cylinders again, and our businesses scaling new heights – growing, innovating and creating the well-paid and high-quality jobs that Londoners badly need and deserve.”
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