Sadiq Khan accused of ‘self-promotion’ amid questions on USA tourism trip cost

City Hall rivals have blasted the mayor for using the trip as an opportunity for  “self-promotion” and described him as a “dilettante… swanning around”.

London mayor Sadiq Khan has been accused of “self-promotion” amid questions over the cost of his trip to the United States to boost the capital as a top tourist destination.

The mayor embarked on a four-day stateside visit to New York, San Francisco, Silicon Valley and Los Angeles on Sunday, May 8, to promote his £10m campaign ‘Let’s Do London’.

Sign up to our LondonWorld Today newsletter

Mr Khan met NYC mayor Eric Adams, former mayor Mike Bloomberg and ex-secretary of state Hillary Clinton, and was joined in the world-famous Times Square by the cast of hit West End musical Six, the Coldstream Guards, and iconic red phone booths and black cabs.

London mayor Sadiq Khan has embarked on a four-day trip to America to promote London as a tourist destination. Photo: Getty

But City Hall rivals have blasted the mayor for using the trip as an opportunity for  “self-promotion” and described him as a “dilettante… swanning around”.

While critics on social media said they would prefer Mr Khan to focus on other issues.

One Twitter user said: “Perhaps instead of wasting our money he should concentrate on what we pay him to do rather than grandstanding.

“Get knife crime down.  Get traffic moving.  Stop astronomical road taxes.”

Earlier this year, the mayor pledged a further £3m to go to the ‘Let’s Do London’ campaign, which has boosted tourism in the city following the coronavirus lockdowns, as well as a further £7m to go on an international tourism marketing campaign to draw in more visitors.

Neil Garratt, City Hall Conservative group economy spokesperson, said: “Tourism is serious business in London - overseas tourists are a huge missing piece of London’s Covid recovery.

Sadiq Khan was joined in the world-famous Times Square by the cast of hit West End musical Six. Photo: Getty

“Tourism used to provide one in seven London jobs and in key venues up to 70% of their income came from overseas tourists.

“It’s right the mayor tries to attract those people back as the world reopens.”

He added: “But is he serious? In March, the London Assembly’s cross-party investigation found that none of the mayor’s 11 Covid recovery missions is focused on tourism, nor could we tell which of his 10 deputy mayors is meant to be responsible for it.

“It’s falling through the cracks.

“When he’s neglecting such basics at home, his USA tour starts to look more like self-promotion for Mr Khan and a missed opportunity for London.”

While in a tweet, he added: “While the mayor is swanning around America promoting himself, er, promoting tourism in London, bear in mind the London Assembly found none of Khan’s 10 deputy mayors is focused on tourism.

Earlier this year, the mayor pledged a further £3m to go to the ‘Let’s Do London’ campaign. Photo: Getty

“As usual, our dilettante mayor loves to grab the headlines and get himself in the papers, but what serious commitment lies behind the flattering headlines?”

Conservative group leader Susan Hall said: “It will be interesting to know how much this is costing cash strapped taxpayers. If he brings back lots of contracts etc, it may be worth it.

“If, however, he is using it to promote himself, that is another matter.”

Critics have also noted Mr Khan tweeted thanking United Airlines for his flight to the States, prompting questions as to why he didn’t fly with a UK airline.

A spokesperson for Mr Khan said: “The mayor is in America this week to bang the drum for London.

“A big part of our continued recovery from the pandemic will be attracting international tourism, business and investment to our city once again.

“Tourism accounts for as many as one in five jobs in London and contributes almost 12% of the city’s gross domestic product (GDP).

“The mayor is committed to keeping the costs of the visit to a bare minimum and maximising value for money.

“Flight arrangements, including the mayor’s, are part of a broader agreement between the Greater London Authority (GLA) and United Airlines."

It’s understood the full costs of the visit will be calculated on the mayor’s return to London.