So, Visit London has been merged with Think London and Study London and relaunched as a private enterprise with annual funding of £14m. The funding level represents a significant cut in the tourism body’s budget, but I suppose we should be thankful the Mayor managed to salvage the major part of the business tourism support operation.
Promote London is the working title for the new body and is to be chaired by Dame Judith Mayhew Jonas, the Chairman of the New West End Company, which represents property owners in London’s West End. She will work with Danny Lopez, currently a Group Director at the soon-to-be-abolished London Development Agency (LDA), who will act as Interim Chief Executive.
The title Promote London, at first hearing, to me seems to be a step backwards from the ‘Visit’ branding that has spread so successfully around the UK and even abroad (The Orlando/Orange County Convention and Visitors Bureau this week rebranded as Visit Orlando).
But, while we can argue over the packaging, the real point is that, at least in these lean times for budgets, a development body continues to exist to promote London as a destination for business and meetings in the year leading up to the biggest show on Earth.
It is embarrassing that we should be taking crumbs for comfort in the news that this important agency continues to exsit at a time when any country with its eyes on the big event prizes and bigger international picture would be increasing the reach of its business marketing arm, particularly in a pre-Olympic year.
Clearly, there is still a Little Englander very hard at work in the corridors of power, both in Westminster and London, that puts counting the pennies on a pedestal, while losing sight of the competition to win the big pounds and, ultimately, big prizes.
One can see how the big thinking and big plans of Russia and Qatar won out over the England bid for the FIFA World Cup. There was plenty of legacy vision, plans to invest big in infrastructure and a lot of respect for competitive bidders, all absent from the London bid, however great we believe the technical aspects to have been.
Maybe we should consider a bid for the Winter Olympics to be held in London? After all, Heathrow seems to be well suited to being the biggest ice rink in the country.
But, in the post-EIBTM travel afterglow, don’t get me started on the transport system…