London suffers Olympics tourism slump as famous sites have lowest visitor numbers in years
Some of London’s most high-profile attractions suffered one of their worst ever summers, despite the ‘Olympic’ boost previously predicted.
The wettest summer in a century compounded the problem, with some sites attracting 60 per cent fewer visits during the Games than during the same period last year, according to the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions (ALVA).
Some individual attractions suffered such a significant drop in visitor numbers during the Olympic Games – which ran from July 27 to August 12 – that they asked officials at ALVA to hold back full details until the entire report is released next year.
Outdoor sites suffered the worst fall, with visitors to the garden and leisure sector – which includes Kew Gardens and London Zoo – falling by an average of 21.3 per cent.
Other areas were also badly hit, with the heritage and cathedrals sector – including the Tower of London, Houses of Parliament, and St Paul’s Cathedral – dipping by more than 20 per cent.
Bernard Donoghue, the chief executive of ALVA, told the BBC the figures made "sobering reading".
He added: "The summer of 2012 has been a difficult time financially for our most popular and best-loved visitor attractions.
"For gardens and outdoor attractions across the UK, the appalling weather during much of the year has led to one of the worst trading periods since 2001 - the year of a foot-and-mouth disease outbreak."
The figures correlate with data released by the Office for National Statistics last month, which showed there were 3.18million trips to Britain from overseas in July this year, compared with 3.36million last year. There was also a dip in spending from £2.13billion to around £2 billion.
The hotel industry was widely criticised during the run-up to the Games for over-inflating prices, potentially acting as a deterrent to tourists. Prices for some hotels were up to 10 times their usual price a year before the Olympics began, although room rates fell sharply as the Games approached and the demand did not match previous predictions.
Some traders were also critical of Games organisers for exaggerating the potential disruption during July and August, claiming that the warnings had put off visitors.
Other areas of the country were less affected by the Olympic Games and the weather, although numbers did fall throughout most of England and Scotland by an average of 4.7 per cent.
The most obvious exception were the museums and galleries of Scotland, where there was a rise of more than 30 per cent in visitor numbers this year, in part due to a multi-million pound refit of the National Museum of Scotland last year.
Jolyon Attwooll Telegraph.co.uk