The Caterer speaks with mayor of London Sadiq Khan as he launches his Let's Do London and London Eats campaigns to encourage Londoners and visitors back to the capital's hospitality venues.
What are your biggest concerns in terms of hospitality as businesses open their doors once more?
Our capital is renowned for our varied and thriving hospitality industry, but our venues have suffered greatly from the impact of Covid-19. We need to protect our world-beating bars, pubs and restaurants so they can continue to play their key role in driving our economy. So it's crucial that we get out and support them, while following public health guidelines.
This is why I'm proud to have launched Let's Do London – the biggest domestic tourism campaign the capital has ever seen – to get the word out that London stands ready to entertain, inspire and enthral once again. As part of this campaign we're working alongside the hospitality industry to encourage Londoners and visitors alike to explore all the delicious things the city has to offer.
We're shouting from the rooftops, championing and celebrating what our capital's wonderful venues have to offer and urging Londoners and visitors to return to them safely as things reopen.
How are you hoping to encourage tourists back to the city when many will consider the countryside or seaside for their summer holidays this year?
London is the greatest city in the world. You can do anything you want to right here, so there's no better place for domestic tourists to visit – with our world-leading cultural institutions and unparalleled food and drink offer for them to enjoy.
Through my Let's Do London campaign I'm bringing together many of our leading organisations and venues to show off everything that makes our capital great. Some of London's best-known cultural institutions and tourism attractions are getting behind the initiative, including the Royal Albert Hall, London Zoo, the Science Museum, the Tate, Southbank Centre, the Royal Opera House and the National Theatre.
Alongside the excitement of the delayed UEFA Euro 2020, a season of summer family fun will make London a great choice for a staycation. From Alice in Wonderland at the V&A and Fantastic Beasts at the Natural History Museum to the Royal Opera House ‘Unlocked' taking over the Covent Garden piazza.
‘London Lates' over the summer months will see extended opening across museums, galleries and cultural and grassroots music venues. Shakespeare's Globe, for example, will stage 'Midnight Matinees' with performances starting at 11.59pm, and there will be outdoor film screenings curated by BAFTA and the British Film Institute.
One of the key parts of this campaign is London Eats, our celebration of our hospitality industry. We're working alongside famous chefs, foodies and venues to promote the industry and encourage Londoners and visitors alike to explore all the delicious things the city has to offer.
There will be everything from New York City-style brunching and Japanese hot stone cooking to an expansive new Italian food emporium opening in the heart of the city. Borough Market is opening on Sundays for the first time in its modern history, there's a rosé wine festival coming to Covent Garden and a whole host of new restaurants and bars opening up. There is something to whet everyone's appetite.
What are you doing to work with local councils to ensure businesses can cut through red tape in terms of things like dining on pavements or roads to allow extra covers when social distancing is still affecting headcounts inside?
The Covid-19 crisis has left many of our much-loved bars, pubs, cafés and restaurants on the brink of collapse, which is why it's so important that we do what we can to support them.
I know businesses are feeling the impact of the restrictions placed on them, and together with London's local authorities, I am doing everything I can to help hospitality venues get back on their feet.
I have repeatedly called on the government to provide sector-specific support for night time and hospitality venues that were unable to operate viably during the pandemic, and will continue to do so.
Guidance provided on the London Business Hub also sets out how local authorities and business can work together to help hospitality venues trade safely using outside spaces.
What is your stance on the working from home message and how it affects hospitality sales?
While moving to a more hybrid model, where people working two to three days a week from home isn't necessarily a bad thing, with benefits for people's wellbeing and work-life balance. I recognise the benefits of getting employees back together into the office in the long term – both in terms of their work and supporting hospitality businesses.
There is no doubt that we need to encourage more people back into central London, and that's why I'm putting the message out loud and clear in support of our city. We have the best bars, restaurants, cafés and hospitality venues in the world, and we need to do all we can to encourage everyone to return to them safely.
Read more about the campaign here
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