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Thursday, 15 November, 2001, 21:46 GMT
4m aid for London's tourist industry
Lights decorating London's Regents Street
Ken Livingstone spoke at the Christmas lights switch-on
London mayor Ken Livingstone has pledged a 4m rescue package for tourist firms devastated by the 11 September terror attacks.

The government has stepped in to support the city's tourism, leisure, hospitality and cultural sectors.

Mr Livingstone's announcement comes in the wake of an estimate - by the British Tourist Board - that the attacks, combined with the foot-and-mouth crisis, will cost Britain 2.5bn.

The tourist industry is vital to London's economy and we must all work together to bring visitors back

Mayor Ken Livingstone
Speaking at the switching on of the Christmas lights in Regent Street, he said the crisis had created an "unprecedented situation for London" which demanded a "rapid response".

"It's clear that visitor attractions, hotels and theatres have been hit particularly hard [because of] people's reluctance to travel into central London," he told the crowd who gathered to watch the seasonal switch-on.

"People are understandably nervous, but the tourist industry is vital to London's economy and we must all work together to bring visitors back."

London receives 50% of overseas visitor spending and stands to have lost up to 1.5bn in 2001.

Russell Watson
Opera star Russell Watson switched the lights on
Tourism is worth 8bn to its economy and employs 275,000 people.

The cash includes 3m from the London Development Agency and this money has been earmarked for additional business and promotional activity.

A further 1m has been provided by the Department of Culture, the Small Business Service and other government sources.

Trade Secretary Patricia Hewitt hoped the package would "offer real help and support".

She said: "It's important that everyone plays their part in helping businesses through these difficult times, which is why we've been working hard to make this happen."

Teresa Wickham, chair of the London Tourist Board and Convention Bureau, said the money was "the first crucial step for recovery".

Mr Livingstone has also pledged 500,000 to fund 100,000 free or discounted tickets for London theatre shows.

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Terror laws at-a-glance
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