OVERDONE warnings of transport gridlock and the fear of an Olympic inspired terrorism plot have drained London of thousands of visitors who would normally have gone to the capital, it was claimed yesterday.
• Claims that fears of transport gridlock and terror threats have driven away tourists from London
• Attractions in London report up to 40 per cent decline in visitor numbers
With restaurants and shops in the normally busy West End of London searching for business, politicians and tourist bosses conceded that, far from attracting visitors, the spectacle may have convinced thousands of tourists to give the UK a miss.
The sight of the capital’s empty streets prompted the first criticism yesterday of London mayor Boris Johnson, who was urged to get the message out that London was safe and running smoothly.
The decline in visitor numbers in London could mean that other tourist hot spots, including Edinburgh and the Lake District, see fewer summer visitors.
But the gloomy prognosis prompted a tetchy response from ministers who said people should take a “more long-term view” to recognise the global publicity Britain was getting thanks to the Games.
In London, the short-term impact of the games was becoming clearer yesterday, with many attractions reporting a 20 to 40 per cent decline in visitors compared to the same time last year.
A London Chamber of Commerce spokeswoman said: “It’s understandable that some people are staying out of the city at the moment. Transport for London and the Locog did a good job of making people aware – maybe too good a job.”
Analysts said international tourists had decided to stay away from the UK, fearing the crush and security problems. At the same time, they said domestic tourists may also have put off visits for the same reason, or because they were too busy watching the games on television.
The Capital has been further hit by the exodus of Londoners who opted to get out in order to avoid the Olympic rush.
John Biggs, deputy leader of the Labour group on the London Assembly, said: “I think Boris Johnson should be reviewing whether the measures that have been taken have suppressed visitors to such an extent that they are damaging other parts of London’s economy.”
Meanwhile, Bernard Donoghue of the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions said visitor numbers fell by up to 35 per cent in the two weeks before the Games.
The complaints come after the Prime Minister David Cameron had predicted that the Games would spark £13 billion of economic investment. However, analysts said it could do the opposite.
George Buckley, economist at Deutsche Bank, said: “There are plenty of people who are at work, but have their feet on desks watching the Olympics on TV. That will hit productivity.”
Search for a job
Search for a car
Search for a house
Weather for Edinburgh
Saturday 25 May 2013
Temperature: 6 C to 17 C
Wind Speed: 13 mph
Wind direction: West
Temperature: 9 C to 16 C
Wind Speed: 14 mph
Wind direction: South west