Research agency TNS has found that a quarter of Americans who intended to visit the UK over the next few months are no longer planning to come in the wake of the riots. However, an inbound DMC says that once it reassured clients about the situation it saw little impact on bookings to the UK.
According to the research results, 5 per cent of French visitors and 14 per cent of German visitors are also reconsidering their plans following the recent riots. Around one-third of those surveyed have less confidence in London's ability to host the Olympics in 2012 than they had prior to the UK riots.
However, Inbound DMC Spectra had two large US incentive programmes (600 participants) in central London during the rioting and they say that the groups were almost oblivious to – and unaffected by – the events.
Spectra chairman, Wendy Moffatt, said: “In our experience, our overseas clients expressed immediate concern over the events but once they received our reassurance, we experienced very little impact on interest in, or bookings for the UK, either short-term or long-term. As we pointed out to all our clients, while the images that were broadcast around the globe were a very realistic and alarming portrayal of what was going on certain parts of our city, they were almost entirely in the suburbs and in areas where tourists would rarely frequent. We also pointed out that the small minority of people perpetrating the crimes were entirely focused on looting and vandalism, rather than terrorism or violence against individuals.
“As to the future, we should perhaps remind the media and reporters of the way the Metropolitan Police handled the recent royal wedding, as well as the statistics for the arrests since the rioting, to reassure ourselves and the outside world of our capability to handle a trouble-free Olympics.”
Jim Eccleston, director of travel and tourism, TNS UK said: “It is unsurprising to see this reaction from potential overseas visitors in the wake of such a significant event. However, it’s how the country as a whole, including the tourist boards and local businesses respond to the crisis that will have the biggest impact on attracting people to the UK. Currently I believe we are looking at a short term emotional reaction to images in the media. I would expect these figures to decrease significantly as the excitement builds for the Olympics next year.”