The Olympics! Yay! Due to generate £2bn in tourism revenues! Just what a recession-riddled London needs! Except… oh. As we forecast last year, tourist numbers for the period of the Games seem to be dropping away.
The European Tour Operators Association says there’s been a 60% downturn in bookings for next July and August (falling even further to 95% during the Games themselves), compared with this summer. This is from ‘normal’ tourists who, not unreasonably, expect London to have other things on its mind. But surely overseas Games audiences need somewhere to stay? They can’t all be renting flats in Stratford.
Restaurateurs are also worried: they think sporting visitors won’t be eating in central London, though posh Galvin Restaurants are taking positive steps to bring in hungry tourists like screening Olympic events and offering sittings that fit around the action.
If the Games will be as bad for business as the Royal Wedding, we reckon it might be a good opportunity for Londoners to take advantage. Remember how empty the streets were when Willenkate got married? We could go to the Tower of London in relative peace (assuming we can get into zone 1 in the first place). And half of that £2bn is expected to be generated after the Games – which will basically be a massive advert for London – so a small dip now should (should) be compensated later. Just hang on…