The capital’s tourism trade could plunge by almost a third following Saturday night’s terrorist attack at London Bridge.
Experts said that although the impact after the Westminster attack had been muted, the subsequent attacks on Manchester and London Bridge would act as a material deterrent both to overseas tourists and domestic travellers.
The attack left seven people dead and 48 injured. Of the 36 people still being treated in hospital, 18 remain in a critical condition.
One unnamed leisure sector chief told The Times: “London carried on doing well after Westminster, as overseas visitors had already booked and the weak pound acted as a draw, but we face a dip in business of four to five months.
“Paris tourism was down 30% and I’m expecting something similar in London.”
Nick Varney, chief executive of Merlin Entertainments, the Madame Tussauds and London Eye operator, insisted that the capital’s long-term growth story remained intact.
“We’ve seen this before and what happened at London Bridge is terrible, but more than any other city London has shown its resilience and ability to bounce back,” he said.
“It remains a long-term successful growth story for tourism because it’s a unique world-class destination, but there’s no getting away from the fact that this is going to affect businesses in the tourism and hospitality trade in the short term.”
Shares fell across the sector, with Merlin sliding 13p to 524p, down 2.4%. Whitbread, which runs Premier Inn hotels and Costa coffee shops across the capital, fell 109p to £41.16, off 2.6%.
Millennium & Copthorne Hotels, which also has a big London presence, lost 11½p to 457¾p, off 2.5%, but Intercontinental Hotels Group, which is less reliant on the UK, fell by a more modest 1.4%, 61p to £44.07.
Among airlines, British Airways owner International Airlines Group, fell 15½p, or 2.5%, to 592p, while Easyjet dropped by 45p, or 3.2%, to £13.44.
Mark Brumby, leisure analyst at Langton Capital, said: “Mums will be telling daughters not to go out, while Kiwi, Aussie and other parents will be suggesting their kids give London a miss.”
Simon French, an analyst at Cenkos, said: “A small number of domestic and overseas visitors will be deterred, but we expect footfall in London and other major UK cities to remain robust.”
Meanwhile, daily financial newspaper City A.M. reported that the the Tourism Industry Emergency Response (Tier) group convened an emergency meeting yesterday to discuss what impact the latest London atrocities will have on the industry.
Meetings have previously been called after the 7/7 bombings and the Westminster attack in March. Tier develops plans for crisis scenarios as well as managing the tourism industry’s response to a specific event.
The high-level group is facilitated by VisitBritain and comprises 10-plus industry representatives.
Members include the Abta, UKinbound, British Hospitality Association, Britain’s national tourist boards, British Airways and the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions.
Bernard Donoghue, director of the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions, said his organisation was surveying its members to ask about the impact of recent terrorism incidents.
Tom Jenkins, chief executive of the European Tour Operators Association, said the latest attack “does not alter the assurance that the UK remains one of the safest countries in the world to be a pedestrian. It will still be one of the safest countries on earth to visit.”
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