Former Mayor of London Ken Livingstone has urged British tourism bosses to review the markets it is targeting in order to attract customers from more big-spending nations.
Speaking at the Tourism Society annual dinner, where he was given an award in recognition of his “exceptional contribution to the tourism industry”, he singled out the Russian market as a particularly lucrative one.
He added: “There might be 10 to one more American visitors than Russian visitors but when the Russians come over they buy a football club.
“The dollar is still overpriced by 30% and we therefore need to target other markets including India and China. We need to agree what to do over the next decade such as improving international sign posting, language issues, VISA issues and correct any perceptions of our city.”
Livingstone also took the opportunity at the event, which was held in the House of Commons on Thursday, to remind the country’s politician’s of the value of tourism.
He said it had cost £1.5 million to persuade the Tour de France to stage the start of the race in London in 2007, a move which attracted around £100 million in tourism spend.