London Update: Few Cancellations, Though Concerns Remain

The riots in London calmed down last night, but the ramifications are still being analyzed and discussed.

Xinhua, the official press agency of the government of the People's Republic of China, posted a scathing commentary on the riots, pointing out that with less than a year to go until the Olympics, “many in the social media have questioned why London's ability to host a violence-free games has not been called into question.” Likewise, an editorial in the London Daily News says that “the potential of major disruption to the Games if these incidents happen next year is real and present.”

VisitBritain, the country’s national tourist agency, assured Travel Agent that safety and security have “always been central in the planning of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games and LOCOG and the Met Police will continue to review the situation.”

A spokeswoman for VisitBritain pointed out that the “IOC (International Olympic Committee) has also made it clear that they have complete confidence over safety at the London 2012 Games.” VisitBritain is monitoring the situation and remains in contact with U.S. based travel companies and industry partners to ascertain any impact this may have. “It is worth noting that we have not received any notifications of visitors having canceled their travel plans. Hotels and tourist attractions continue to receive and welcome tourists as per normal in all the English cities cited in coverage.”

Visitors who are in London and who have concerns can visit the Britain and London Visitor Centre at 1 Lower Regent Street and/or contact the U.S. Embassy on site.

The agency’s latest marketing campaign, which features famous Britons welcoming guests to the country with the tagline “You’re Invited,” has been temporarily pulled from “That’s just for the moment—it’s not appropriate right now,” a spokeswoman said. “We’ve just decided to rest that ad temporarily, and it’s being reviewed every day.”

John Hallett, Managing Director of Destination Bristol, promised that that visitors and travel agents do not need to worry about travel to Bristol in the coming weeks and months. “Bristol is over an hour and a half from London and experienced just a few minor and isolated incidents,” he told Travel Agent. “Visitors and travel agents can always follow Visit Bristol on Twitter and Facebook @VisitBristol for up to date travel information or contact at [email protected] with any direct questions.”

VisitEngland sent the following updates:

-          London and other parts of England have remained calm overnight and it is very much business as usual. Transport services, including inbound flights, are all running a good service and hotels and major tourist attractions across England remain open and unaffected.

-          International events continue to take place, including the Olympic beach volleyball test event at Horse Guards Parade in the heart of London, and the test match between England and India in Birmingham.

-          Feedback from our overseas network indicates that although there has been concern in some markets, there are no reports of cancellations. Of course we will continue to monitor the situation. England has a strong and positive image overseas and we hope that inbound tourism will show its customary resilience.

-          We have a great opportunity over the next year to showcase England to the world and to encourage visitors to come and experience the country for themselves. These obviously are not the images of London and our cities that we would wish to see. However, we expect these incidents to be short lived and the strong positive image of London and England overseas will mean that tourism continues to prosper.

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