LONDON, England - THE London 2012 Olympics appears to be deterring tourists from the capital’s centre after warnings of travel chaos and overpriced hotel rooms, according to key industry figures.
Many businesses complain they are being sidelined as tourists make a beeline for the Olympic Games and avoid the capital’s other attractions and shopping destinations, while non-sports fans opt to stay at home or delay their trips.
In the run-up to the Olympics, commuters and tourists alike were warned to avoid central London, with millions of athletes, support staff, media and spectators descending on the capital for the greatest show on earth.
The Games have long been heralded as a key boost to the recession-hit British economy. But tourist numbers have fallen “dramatically” since the Games began, according to industry body the European Tour Operators Association.
“London has approximately 300,000 foreign and 800,000 domestic visitors every day in August. These people have been told implicitly that they should stay away and they have done so,” said ETOA Chief Executive Tom Jenkins.
He argued that many were simply following official travel advice from Transport for London, which runs the capital’s roads and railways.
“The numbers are currently dramatically down on last year. How far down will be determined by how long Transport for London maintains the ’don’t come into London’ campaign,” added Jenkins.
“But they have been replaced by approximately 500,000 Games ticket holders, many of whom are Londoners, all of whom are here because they’ve come to watch sport.