London tourism keeps calm and carries on

Tourism bosses and the London Mayor Sadiq Khan have hailed London’s resilience following the Westminster attack, which is not expected to greatly affect travel to the capital.

Three pedestrians on Westminster bridge and PC Keith Palmer, a Metropolitan Police officer at the Houses of Parliament, were killed by an attacker on March 22.

The mayor said: “We Londoners have experienced horrific attacks and tragedy before…we will never be cowed by those who use terror to try to break us.

“I want to reassure all Londoners and all visitors to our city — do not be alarmed. London remains one of the safest cities in the world.”

Tourism chiefs echoed his sentiments, while the public shared the popular hashtag #LondonIsOpen and motivational messages on London Underground noticeboards.

David Scowsill, president and chief executive of the World Travel & Tourism Council, said: “England and London specifically are very resilient tourism destinations. We do not expect this isolated incident to have an impact on people’s decision to travel to the country nor its capital.”

Deirdre Wells, UKinbound chief executive, added: “UKinbound is working closely with industry partners and government to ensure that London continues to be an open and welcoming destination for visitors from across the globe.”

Ufi Ibrahim, British Hospitality Association chief executive, commented: “Terrorism is a concern for holidaymakers and tourism businesses but the quick response and continued vigilance of the security services means that the UK remains open to welcome visitors from home and abroad.

“The UK is a safe destination and these tragic events remind us of the need to remain alert but should not deter tourists from visiting London.”

Sir David Michels, Tourism Alliance president, said: “We must maintain the trust of international and domestic visitors while doing our best to avoid such disasters in the future. Our excellent tourism offer and adaptability will ensure returning visitors”.

The resilience message was reflected in the national media after the attacks.

The Financial Times reported “many visitors to London seemed unruffled by the sort of terror attack that has become familiar in western cities in recent years”.

Some Germans suggested to the FT that Brexit, not security, might be a bigger factor in preventing them from visiting London again in the future.

Wouter Geerts, senior travel analyst at Euromonitor International, told the FT: “While there might be a small number of tourists who will postpone their visit to the city, it is unlikely that the impact of this horrendous attack will result in long-term damage to the city’s attractiveness and competitiveness.”

A short-term impact is expected at Merlin Entertainment, which runs London attractions such as Madame Tussauds, Sea Life Centre and the London Dungeon.

Merlin’s share price dropped after the attack, as analysts cited concern about weakening tourism numbers.

Sightseers were stuck on its London Eye during the afternoon of the attack, while other attractions closed early.

Nick Varney, Merlin Entertainments’ chief executive, told The Daily Telegraph: “London is a proud and resilient city.

“It is one of the great capital cities of the world, a vibrant destination, and our experience shows that people will always want to visit.”

However, last year’s terror attacks on continental Europe do appear to have affected London attractions, according to figures from the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions.

The British Museum, the Natural History Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum saw more than a million fewer people in total in 2016 compared with the previous year.

Bernard Donoghue, Alva director, said: “There were some security fears about central London and city centre attractions, both on the part of overseas visitors and UK domestic families.”

However, he felt there was “very little indication” that the attack in Westminster could lead to a cut in tourism trade in the capital.

Etoa, the European tourism association, said: “The intentional nature of this incident makes it newsworthy. It does not make the UK any less safe.

“It will still be one of the safest countries on earth to visit.

“London remains open.”