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The head of the UK’s hospitality trade body has warned of the damaging impact of today’s London Underground strike on tourism to the capital.

The 24-hour action against plans for an all night Tube service started last night and runs all day today bringing fears of gridlocked roads.

Many staff are concerned new rotas to accommodate the night service will mean greater weekend working.

One official from the RMT union told BBC London that members would “escalate action” in the run-up to the scheduled start of the night service on September 12.

But Ufi Ibrahim, chief executive of The British Hospitality Association said: “London’s economy is heavily reliant on its fast and reliable public transport network to move around the capital’s residents, tourists and visitors.

“Strike action especially during busy summer months is a real nightmare for our hotel, restaurant and visitor attraction members who have to maintain high standards while facing the staff shortages and unpredictable customer footfall resulting from the transport challenges.”

She added: “London needs the new round-the-clock tube service on weekends as soon as possible: it is essential to keep up with global cities like New York and Berlin, and to support London’s 24-hour lifestyle.

“The unions should call off their strike action and allow London to continue to welcome visitors with open arms.

“According to latest figures online searches for hotels and accommodation in London fell by almost a quarter during the last Tube strike action and we expect this to be the case again.

“We hope that trade union leaders will be able to avoid further strike action in the future so our members can continue to welcome guests uninterrupted and to protect London’s place as the top destination in the world.”