Kate Simon: How we respond to the riots could affect future tourism
Kate Simon is the Travel Correspondent of The Independent and The Independent on Sunday. She was Travel Editor of The Independent on Sunday from 2005 to 2011. Kate is also the co-founder of Little Black Book Creative (www.lbbcreative.co.uk), which offers editorial services, media relations consultancy and travel-writing training.
Sunday 21 August 2011
Assessing the dangers of one country over another has become a preoccupation of the modern-day traveller. There's no question that some places on the world map would turn anyone off – a city break in Kabul is unlikely to appeal at the moment.
But until recently, suggest that London might be up there as worthy of a risk assessment – thanks largely to the backlash against Britain's forays beyond its borders – and you'd usually be met with a hesitant yet cynical smile.
Might this month's riots make people think again? Certainly, it's provoking debate on the other side of the world, if an article I was reading in the Sydney Morning Herald is anything to go by. "London Calling? Not to us, not any more" read a headline on its website, the subsequent piece asking if this was the beginning of the end of the love affair between Australians and "Old Dart".
"London's not the safe haven it once was," asserted the author. "There's even rioting in Clapham!" Would backpackers now forgo the convenience of a common language for the streets of other European cities, such as Berlin or Stockholm, he asked? What about giving Britain the swerve and heading for reassuring old Canada instead?
To be honest, the article revealed little understanding of Britain's centuries-old tempestuous history of social tension. A more informed report was offered by the Middle East-based broadcaster al-Jazeera. It considered how spring's royal wedding had boosted bookings from foreign holidaymakers, while summer's riots were causing governments to tell their citizens visiting Britain to be cautious, and, in South Africa's case, advising against all non-essential travel here. (Who can blame the South Africans for having a pop – after years on the receiving end of bad press about safety in their cities.)
Pity the nervous international traveller, switching tickets last minute for a less complex choice of destination, especially when news reports seem to suggest that the whole of the UK has been set alight. Alex Salmond, for one, was quick to chastise media talking of "UK riots", pointing out that none had taken place in Scotland.
To suggest Britain is a no-go area is nonsense, a fact no one seems to be more sure of than the country's tourism chiefs. Fearful of the negative effect of the riots on the 2012 Olympics, tourism leaders are observing a three-line whip, explaining, in calm voices, that even at the height of the unrest cancellations by visitors were minimal and the riots will soon be shaken off by resilient old London.
They hope. But who can predict whether there will be more riots before the opening ceremony. Tough talk instead of proper analysis of why the riots happened might enforce the peace in the short term, but could it breed further disaffection and make London a more dangerous place in the future for visitors as well as residents?
Remember those envelopes that you popped your roll of film into and posted for cut-price developing? Now the baton has been taken up for the digital age by Bonusprint, with an ingenious app for the iPad. It allows you to create and order a 24-page book of your photos for £9.99, to be delivered to your door, spiral bound, within the week.
Do you have a travel issue? - Email email@example.com
The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations
- 1 Rihanna 'nude pictures' claims emerge on 4Chan as hacking scandal continues
- 2 iOS 8 apps and features: eight iPhone settings you need to look at after you install the update
- 3 Kim Kardashian 'nude photos' leaked on 4chan weeks after Jennifer Lawrence scandal
- 4 'F*ck it, I quit': KTVA reporter Charlo Greene quits live on air in spectacular fashion
- 5 Scotland could still declare independence – even without referendum, says Alex Salmond
Scotland could still declare independence – even without referendum, says Alex Salmond
Scottish referendum results: Cross-party consensus collapses amid Tory-Labour spat on the 'English question'
Hilary Mantel 'should be investigated by police' over Margaret Thatcher assassination story, says Lord Bell
Scottish independence: David Cameron is becoming the 'George Bush of Britain'
Plebgate MP Andrew Mitchell called officer a 'little s**t', claim court documents 'exposing ex-Chief Whip's 'record of abusing police'
Archbishop of Canterbury admits doubts about existence of God
£50 - 60k (DOE): Guru Careers: An Affiliate Marketing Manager / Affiliate Mana...
£18000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: ***EXCELLENT OPPORTUNITY FO...
Basic of £18,000 + commission, realistic OTE of £30-£50k : Ocean Holidays: Le...
£20 - 26k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Marketing Executive / Member Services Ex...