London tourism struggles during Olympics

 

London's tourism industry is struggling to compete with the impact of the Olympic Games, which has left the host city a “ghost town”, businesses said today.

Many traditional tourist hotspots have reported a fall in ticket sales as visitors flock to Olympic venues across the capital.

Theatre companies said they were seeing a “mixed picture” with many companies struggling due to the lack of footfall in the West End.

Mark Rubinstein, president of the Society of London Theatre, said: “Normally tourists will visit central London but they are mostly here to see the Games.

”The message about travel problems also seems to have kept people away. My experience is things are running smoothly and people should not be put off.

“There is a great opportunity to get out there to see some fantastic shows.”

Sri Balay, online sales manager at Leicester Square Box Office, said: “Theatre in general is pretty quiet. We have a lot of visitors going past but they are going to Olympic events or spending a lot on hotels.

”We would usually be busy at this time of year because it's the summer holidays and lots of families enjoy going to the theatre. But at the moment it's very quiet.“

Steve McNamara, general secretary of the Licensed Taxi Drivers Association, said cab drivers had been hit hard and described London as a ”ghost town“.

Mr McNamara added: ”Anecdotally our business is down by about 20-40 per cent depending on the time of day.

“Normally about 90 per cent of our customers are Londoners but they've all left the city and haven't been replaced by tourists.

”I don't know where all these tourists are or how they're getting about but London is like a ghost town.

“Some drivers are working longer hours just to stand still, others have taken a conscious decision not to pay certain bills while others have just given up and gone away.”

A spokeswoman for the British Museum said there had been a fall in the number of visitors.

“Anecdotally at the moment, it is looking like we are about 25-30 per cent down on the same time last year,” she said.

“The positive thing from the museum's perspective and something we would be keen to get across is that we are open and ready to take visitors and so it is an extremely good time to come to the British Museum and we would encourage everyone to do that.”

Christopher Woodward, director of the Garden Museum, next door to Lambeth Palace in London, said an exhibition at the museum charting the history of foreign flora in British gardens had proved popular.

But he said the museum had suffered a drop in the number of people booking wedding receptions over August because of the Olympics and the Paralympics.

“The positive has been that visitors have been very happy but the negative has been that we have been hit by the loss of wedding receptions which is a major source of income to the museum,” he said.

“No one is getting married in London in August.

“We have also scheduled the opening of our exhibition to September because of London being semi-deserted.”

He added that the Queen's Diamond Jubilee celebrations had brought a boost to the museum.

“The Queen's Jubilee was wonderful, we were packed to the rafters with a really happy, nice bunch of people,” he said.

“The Jubilee was a big plus this year.”

Bernard Donoghue, chief executive of the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions, which represents venues ranging from London Zoo to St Paul's Cathedral, said visitor numbers were down by between 30 per cent and 35 per cent.

He added: “There are two groups of people missing. The first are general visitors to London who are staying clear because of the perception that London will be busy.

“The second are Londoners and Brits who have been warned there will be a transport nightmare.

“Our message to them is that, while it may be sensible to avoid certain peak times and locations, transport is running very smoothly.

“Ironically there has never been a better time to visit our attractions because the queues are shorter and opening times have been extended.” 

PA

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Savvy Media Ltd: Media Sales executive - Crawley

£25k + commission + benefits: Savvy Media Ltd: Find a job you love and never h...

Austen Lloyd: Corporate Solicitor NQ+ Oxford

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: CORPORATE - Corporate Solicitor NQ+ An excelle...

Reach Volunteering: Financial Trustee and Company Secretary

Voluntary Only - Expenses Reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: A trustee (company d...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Project Manager

£45000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

In a world of Saudi bullying, right-wing Israeli ministers and the twilight of Obama, Iran is looking like a possible policeman of the Gulf

Iran is shifting from pariah to possible future policeman of the Gulf

Robert Fisk on our crisis with Iran
The young are the new poor: A third of young people pushed into poverty

The young are the new poor

Sharp increase in the number of under-25s living in poverty
Greens on the march: ‘We could be on the edge of something very big’

Greens on the march

‘We could be on the edge of something very big’
Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby - through the stories of his accusers

Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby

Through the stories of his accusers
Why are words like 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?

The Meaning of Mongol

Why are the words 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?
Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible