Merlin confident visitor numbers can bounce back from terror attacks. We should ensure that's not misplaced

People are understandably nervous as a result of the wall to wall coverage, but you're more likely to get hurt on the roads on your way to a venue than you are to encounter fanatics

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The Independent Online

It was probably inevitable that the recent spate of terrorist incidents in Britain would have an impact on tourism, both domestic and overseas, and so it has proved. 

Merlin, which operates venues including the London Eye and Legoland, has just issued a trading update in which it reports that there was a reduction in the domestic day trip market to attractions such as the Eye in the immediate aftermath of the Westminster attack on March 22. The enormous big wheel is located just around the corner from London Bridge where that incident took place. 

The subsequent attacks in Manchester, and the capital, have “resulted in a further deterioration in domestic demand”. 

The company is also worried about the effect on custom from overseas tourists, which will take time to make itself felt because of the lag between holiday bookings and visits. 

Even its parks, situated away from big city centres, are starting to see an impact: “Trading in the Legoland Parks and resort theme parks operating groups has been in line with expectations, although a number of our UK parks have been adversely affected in recent weeks by the terror attacks and subsequent heightened security measures.”  

All this is understandable in many respects. The attacks were horrific. They received wall to wall coverage and those responsible displayed a wanton nihilism that has seldom been seen in this country. 

Many people will have seen the pictures on the TV news, online, and in newspapers, and concluded, “why take the risk?” 

But, while tragic, the number of people hurt or killed in the three incidents is relatively small when you consider the size of the cities in question. 

London, for example, is home to more than 9m people. One consequence of its large, and growing, population is that its roads are crowded and congested. Those that use them don’t always behave very well.  

On June 30 2016, for example, Transport for London revealed that number of people killed or injured on them in 2015 had fallen a bit, which is to be welcomed. But it still stood at 2,092 people.  

In other words, if you take a trip to a London attraction you’re far more likely to get hurt on the roads on your way there than you are to get caught up in a terrorist incident. The same is true of Manchester, or of any other big city you might care to mention. 

It’s an unfortunate fact that Britain has been subject to three atrocities in short succession. It will probably suffer further attacks in the future. 

However, the risk posed to those who defy the terrorists and take time out to visit attractions, is still extremely small. There is no good reason to give the fanatics a boost by allowing them to disrupt our lives and to stop us from having fun and enjoying our great cities. 

Merlin’s chief executive Nick Varney had this to say on the subject: “London has bounced back before, and will do again. I have every confidence in the longer term resilience and growth trajectory of the market. London is very much open for business, welcoming visitors from the UK and from around the world to this exciting and vibrant city.”

I agree. A fine response to the fanatics would be to show that Mr Varney is right. 

 

 

 

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