London to be rebranded

The mayor of London says the capital needs more publicity in advance of the Olympics

Boris Johnson, the mayor of London, has announced that the capital city will be rebranded next year, with a new "Brand for London" to be unveiled in Spring 2010.

But while London may talk the talk, the reality may not always match up. The city sees an increasing need to promote itself to tourists and potential investors, despite recent signs of the capital's popularity.

This, for instance, the Bank of China announced it is setting up an office in a large building it is buying close to the Bank of England. The decision demonstrates that although some of the cachet of being a city dominated by finance and banking may have diminished over the past few years, London can still pull in the corporates.

The same is true for investment. Overseas investors are still keen to buy a slice of London. The third quarter of the year saw £1.602bn invested in central London's main commercial property markets.

Tourist numbers are also up: the capital's museums, galleries and attractions drew 6% more visitors in September 2009 than in the same period of 2008. About 15 million overseas vistors came to London in 2008 and together with the 11 million domestic visitors spent £22bn.

But London still needs a further push, according to Johnson, who announced that £400,000 will be spent on publicity campaigns in the UK and Europe early next year, following a £2m campaign this year.

Speaking at a recent conference, Johnson said a new "Brand for London" will be unveiled in Spring 2010, partly to tie in with the run-up to the 2012 Olympics.

While the extra spending may boost the capital's image as a leading destination for international leisure and business tourism, there are still concerns that the reality may not live up to the hype.

Jackie Sadek, head of regeneration at property consultant CBRE and chair of the British Urban Regeneration Association, said the general approach was eminently sensible and commendable, but does not go far enough. Sadek wants more spending on public spaces in the capital, such as Oxford Street. "We have a very strong offer but are very badly let down by the public realm," she said.

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