The government is being urged not to squander all that has been achieved through the successful hosting of the London Olympic Games.
The call came from UKinbound as it released figures showing that 66% of members reported year-on-year bookings or inbound tourist numbers were “significantly” lower and a further 22% stated they were slightly lower.
59% of those who believed numbers were considerably lower stated they had seen decreases of more than 10%.
82% said bookings for the post-Olympics period of August 13-September 9 were lower or significantly lower year on year.
72% agreed with the statement that ‘lack of accommodation for advanced booked groups in London had adversely affected destinations around the UK’ during the Olympics.
UKinbound chief executive Mary Rance said: “Now is not the time to pat each other on the back and say job well done.
“Along with the many successes and highlights, there have been some major disappointments including a significant reduction in the number of visitors to London and the UK compared to summer 2011.
“In fact, the job to attract visitors to the UK has only just started. If the government is going to succeed in their ambition of welcoming 40 million visitors by 2020, there must be a genuine determination to attract overseas visitors at a time when the ‘Olympic’ effect no longer exists.
“The government and [Olympic organising body] Locog promised a legacy that would benefit so many aspects of UK life. Now is the time for them to start delivering that promise.”
She added: “Complacency is not an option. London is the gateway to the rest of the UK so the issues of the punitive tax on international tourism – Air Passenger Duty – as well as the lack of a risk-based approach to the processing of visas and the real aversion to making a decision on expanding airport capacity in London have not mysteriously disappeared.
“They need be dealt with now, and with a real sense of urgency. There is a strong desire and passion from our members to ensure that Government inbound visitor targets are reached.
“What we want to see from the government is that same desire, passion, and importantly, action.”
Rita Beckwith, chief executive of London-based City Cruises, said: “As an industry we knew the games would have a negative impact on international visitor numbers to London but the impact on the rest of the UK, combined with domestic visitors staying away, has been deeply disappointing.
“This demonstrates, more than ever, the importance of London as a gateway to the rest of the UK and the urgent need for action to ensure that London retains its international hub status.
“So the sooner the government makes a decision on increasing airport capacity in London the better if the promised legacy is to become a reality.
“We need to be using the tremendous success of the Olympics to drive tourists to London to experience the city for themselves having watched it on TV all over the world.”
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