Wednesday 15 August 2012

Will London Recover from The Olympics

Any Londoner knows that London became a ghost town in the last few weeks, and quel surprise given all the warnings we've received for a year, telling us to get out of town (by working from home or taking annual leave)...

We took the warnings seriously!

We thought travel to and from work would be chaos.

Any tourists interviewed (who ordinarily come to London every Summer) said they stayed away as they thought it would be murder, and they plan to come to the UK in Autumn instead.

So while Stratford was busy, areas like Oxford Street and Regent Street were empty. I heard about it non-stop on LBC 97.3 but I saw it for myself when I used London Underground on 4th August to travel right across London (for 2 hours) to go to a wedding with Aaron - it was the quietest I have ever seen tubes and trains and that was on what should have been a busy Saturday, afternoon.

A busy Central Line - Saturday 4th August 2012 !!!

Anyway I have been in Ireland again since the beginning of last week - here still - came over for a large Irish family wedding.

I thought I'd now do a bit of a Google on what the state of play is in London now.

It would seem that despite John Lewis struggling with a -8.7% dip, they have now seen a boost and a turnaround as the "feel good factor" starts to kick in - it would want to! This extract is taken from the link just given:
The retail sector in West London received a further Olympic boost on Tuesday (7 August) with a 13.5% year-on-year increase in footfall, according to Experian FootFall.
The market research company has attributed the rise partly to spectators of the free Triathlon event, which took place in Hyde Park, visiting shops afterwards.
However, the increase in footfall on Tuesday is against a backdrop of continued decline in footfall during the Olympic period.  Experian Footfall’s figures show that footfall in West London was down every day during 1-6 August, excluding a 4.5% increase on Sunday. 

Having spoken to shop owners and black taxis, I can certainly say that they are all down on last year and did not get the Olympic boost they'd expected.  I also heard B&Bs calling in to LBC 97.3 saying that the last time they were this quiet was just after 9-11.

This article says the following:
The official visitor figures won't be available until September.
Tourism officials say that international Olympics visitors to London, including athletes, officials and tourists, totaled about 300,000. Domestic spectators from Britain made up the majority of people visiting games venues.
Restaurants and shops have complained that these games visitors did not spend as much money on food and shopping as typical summer tourists.
"The people who came to the games really didn't do very much sightseeing, didn't do very much shopping, didn't do very much eating out," said Miles Quest, a spokesman for the British Hospitality Association.
So I hope that there's a big influx of tourists in Autumn, and I hope it coincides with an Indian Summer as we certainly need both.  Apparently we now have to focus on the "legacy of the games"...

But don't you think it was an absolute joke when David Cameron asked Londoners to "come back" when him and his Olympic motley crew had spent a year telling us to stay away.  I even received a hand delivered Olympic pack at my office MONTHS ago, making sure that I knew London would be disrupted etc...  They knew the London Transport system could not hope with Londoners and Olympic visitors, but as they couldn't just ask some of us to leave, it was kind of all or nothing...........!

Get Ahead of the Games is already telling people to avoid the busiest places and times for the Paralympic Games, so here we go again:
On 29 August the Paralympic Games commence. We'll need your help again to avoid the busiest times and places. Let's get ready to welcome the world once more.

"We''ll need your help again", to me says: please avoid London again.  All I can say is I feel sorry for the SMEs, and independent traders who can't simply absorb a month of their figures being down, especially when some of them staffed UP for what they thought would be the busiest time of the decade.  So yes, we got lots of Gold medals, but our high streets and traders suffered at a time when they expected a much needed boost.

The "average price of London hotels is set to drop by 35% now that the Olympics is over".  Maybe that amongst other things will bring the tourists back?

As for me, I won't be travelling into London until I get a new job - having been made redundant on 5th July.... Yes I got through the recession of 2008/9/10/11 but it got me in the end....!

So I will be watching London in the coming weeks and months, longing to see the beneficial ripple effect of the Games.  I was proud to see Team GB win so many medals, and Golds in particular.   I hope it inspires a generation as planned.  The same generation that is facing the worst youth unemployment since I don't know when.  Actually it is probably too late for them.  These Games need to inspire the under 10s.  And, I hope that they have!

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