Riots not expected to dent international tourism

15 August 2011 by
Riots not expected to dent international tourism

"Business as usual" is the message being put out by the UK's official bodies in the aftermath of the worst riots in recent memory, and even hospitality operators seem quietly confident.

Mark Di-Toro, spokesperson for VisitBritain, predicted there would be little immediate effect. He said: "Londoners in general are resilient and the Brit tourism industry is equally resilient. We have had issues before, such as foot and mouth disease, volcanic ash and terrorism, and it's all been overcome. So far international visitors have not been affected."

A statement for London & Partners, the body responsible for the promotion of London in the run up to the Olympics, backed this: "Past experience tells us that London recovers very quickly from such events and we will focus on recovery activity as soon as it is viable to do so. The majority of London attractions have remained open and the capital has continued to host major events, such as the Badminton World Championships, which have all demonstrated the capital's resilience."

Ciarán Fahy, managing director of the Cavendish in central London, said: "I have no concerns about business going forward. London is a major global city with the resources to deliver a great Olympics in 2012.

He added: "It's important to note that all the Olympic test events this week, including the Women's Beach Volleyball in Horseguards, the Badminton in North London, the Marathon Swimming in Hyde Park on Saturday and the Road Cycling on Sunday are all going ahead without any disruption."

Oliver Peyton, owner of niche contract caterer to iconic tourist galleries and venues, Peyton and Byrne agreed. "We didn't see much change in business," he said. "In central London, where most tourists were, it didn't feel like anything had happened. There's a lot of speculation about the medium term, but I really don't think it will be a problem. London is a pretty positive city and a great place to visit, and tourists understand that."

Jonathan Raggett, managing director of Red Carnation, hotels added: "Business for August and September has never been better, and we have seen no cancellations. I expect the riots will have no effect whatsoever on the Olympics, and we are confident for the rest of this year as well as 2012 and beyond.

However Nick Gauntlet, operations director of Galleon Hotels warned: "I do think it will have a negative effect, it looks to outsiders like we can't control the country, and people will be more cautious about coming to the UK until it's calmed down."

There were also some concerns about the long term effect of the riots. A spokesperson for London and Partners said: "We will work closely with the tourism industry to understand the effects of the past few days. It is currently too early to anticipate the effect on tourism and inward investment but we are monitoring the situation and we will work with the industry to respond to specific issues as they arise."

Di-Toro added that the country's reputation as a top location for culture and heritage had been built up over years, and would take more than a single instance of unrest to destroy, but he admitted: "Clearly if things like this happen closer to the time on this level this will be a different conversation, but the reaction is minimal so far."

\* A recent poll of 134 London firms conducted by ComRes for the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) revealed 83% of businesses feared the city's reputation as a place to do business had been damaged following the unrest. In addition, 73% agreed that the riots had had the knock-on effect of highlighting the potential for civil disorder during the Olympics in 2012.

Riots have damaged London's reputation ahead of Olympics >>

VisitBritain says it's too early to assess impact of riots >>

By Emily Manson*

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