Tracy Halliwell MBE, Director of Business Tourism & Major Events at London & Partners explains why the capital remains an iconic destination for business and leisure…
1. The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan is focused on declaring the capital as a number-one destination for investment, business and tourism. How do you see west London playing part in this?
"London welcomes over 18 million international visitors and a further 12 million domestic overnight visitors each year, either for business or leisure. One of the most appealing drawcards of west London is that these two entities can sit alongside each other, creating a fabulous rounded destination. Within itself, the tourism industry is a business; one that’s worth upwards of £115 billion to the UK economy. The sheer volume of hotels in the area, not to mention brands such as Harrods, Disney and Virgin demonstrate why west London is a prime destination for any type of visitor, aided of course by the area’s accessibility to Heathrow and the rest of the city."
2. What do you think the biggest appeal of west London is?
"Our research has shown that over 70% of inbound visitors cite cultural experience as the number one motivator for leisure visits to the capital. West London is the home of many of the cities’ cultural jewels. Our study identified that the top five activities for visitors to London are theatre, live music, live sport, music festivals, and indoor exhibitions. Of course, with the theatre district, Royal Albert Hall, Wembley Arena, Twickenham Stadium, Royal Parks, Olympia London plus an array of hotel accommodation all calling west London home—the appeal is undeniable.
These attractions were particularly popular in the under 25, and 25-34 age groups—a key demographic for maintaining London’s role as one of the most iconic and appealing cities in the world. On average, visitors from within these age groups visit at least four landmarks during their trip to London, meaning west London will always have great appeal given the close proximity of several key destinations i.e. the array of museums that create Albertopolis."
3. As someone who gets to see the most exciting events and attractions each year, what are your favourite things to do in West London?
"You can’t think of west London without talking about Wimbledon - an icon on both the events and sport calendar. I also love visiting the iconic museums - the Natural History, Science and V&A, whether just to see the wonder on my kid’s faces, or to attend a fabulous gala event.
Professionally, The Meeting Show is always a highlight as it’s an opportunity to bring the MICE industry together in London, to share ideas and strategically plan for the future. Oh, and Design Week is another stand-out event, which is unique in how it places itself over so many different venues; highlighting the best our Capital has to offer. Of course, 2016 saw the very successful move of the London Design Museum to the west; which welcomed 250,000 visitors in their first three months."
4. What’s next for London? Are there any developments which event professionals should be aware of?
"It’s important for event professionals to realise that whilst Brexit brings an air of the unknown, it should be seen as an opportunity, not a challenge and London remains a fabulous events destination - #LondonIsOpen – we have some of the best venues in the world, some of the best cultural institutions, over 140,000 hotel rooms, 6,500 restaurants and bars, and a third of our city is green space.
We’ll also be driving a tourism strategy, which places focus on visitor satisfaction, and working across the city to ensure we don’t remain complacent and that we keep improving our attractiveness. And as a vital industry to the UK economy, we are working closely through the Event Industry Board to ensure we have a voice in government and that we continue to work on any barriers to business that we currently face in attracting new MICE business to the UK."