VisitLondon to take on wider role as spin-offs face cull

VisitLondon is to be granted a bigger remit to promote the capital, as the Greater London Authority and the London Development Agency set about culling smaller marketing agencies that also help to market the city of London.

Both the GLA and LDA have started a strategic review of VisitLondon and are considering axing individual spin-off agencies such as Think London, Creative London and Film London or subsuming them under the VisitLondon banner.

Insiders suggest the auth≠orities are in the early stages of discussions over shrinking the number of promotional agencies at a time when the economic downturn begins to kick in.

The newly “enhanced” body will then market London for business and leisure visitors alike and assume the promotional role of the smaller agencies.

Its task will include Think London’s objective of promoting London “as the first choice of business expansion” and also Creative London’s remit for enhancing London’s reputation for creativity.

It is understood that this is part of the government’s fund-crunching tourism strategy. LDA says its funding for VisitLondon has increased from £15.2m last year to just short of £15.5m this year.

While this appears to be an 1.8% increase, it does not match the rate of inflation, which hit 3.8% in June this year.

In June, LDA decided to bring the programme “London Unlimited” in house to ensure “the project was delivered on schedule, providing value for money and complements LDA’s wider international promotion strategy”.

Sources also suggest that the departure of James Bidwell as chief executive of ≠VisitLondon announced last week is part of the restructuring plan.

An LDA spokeswoman denies any proposal to expand Visit≠London or to review all of the LDA-funded bodies.

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