Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has announced that £6m will be invested in directly supporting the reopening of London's economy once Covid restrictions are lifted.
This will include a £1m campaign to attract visitors and tourists from across the UK back into the capital later this year.
Initiatives will be brought forward to encourage Londoners and tourists back into central London, such as major events and helping local businesses put in place more alfresco dining spaces.
The mayor has also published a report conducted by engineering firm Arup with real estate advisor Gerald Eve and the London School of Economics showing the future challenges and opportunities facing London's Central Activities Zone (CAZ).
The report concluded that the central London ecosystem is well-placed to recover strongly, but if home working remains the norm and no further action is taken, this could lead to an estimated 86,000 fewer jobs within the CAZ by 2031 with the losses in retail, food and culture. The London economy would contract around £36b by 2031 compared to a ‘no-Covid-19' scenario.
The report emphasised the importance of hosting international events and more arts and cultural activity to draw people back. This could include the expansion of London's night-time economy with shops, museums and essential services extending their opening hours.
Khan said: "Central London is the engine of the UK's economy. There simply won't be a national economic recovery from Covid unless all levels of government realise the crucial importance of protecting central London's unique ecosystem of shops, hospitality and world-leading cultural venues. That's why I'm investing £6m directly in attracting people back into London once Covid restrictions are lifted.
"This report published today shows that we can't be complacent in assuming everything will return to normal. The excitement and buzz of central London will endure, but we will have to be bold and innovative over the coming months to ensure people return to central London in large numbers – whether as tourists, office workers, shoppers or for a night out."
Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UKHospitality, added: "London's hospitality businesses rely, in large part, on footfall from commuters and international tourists. The shift towards home working and the almost total absence of international tourists during the pandemic has meant that city centre businesses have taken a huge hit. If we want these businesses to survive, then we need to tempt people back into London and a plan to ensure that people have a reason to continue visiting regularly."