LONDON — London retailers and the tourism industry are bracing for the long-term damage of terrorism.
Spending by tourists might plummet by 300 million pounds, or $522 million, this year because of the July 7 attacks — without factoring in the attempted bombings and the fatal shooting of a suspected suicide bomber last week, according to the tourist group VisitBritain. Scotland Yard said Saturday that the suspect was not involved in the bombings.
“We think people, especially families with kids, will not be traveling like they used to,” said a spokesman for Harrods, one of the city’s top tourist destinations. “This will certainly be a challenging time.”
Tourists generate about 25 percent of Harrods’ annual sales.
“The proof of the pudding will be at the end of the summer when we see exactly where our sales have come from,” he said.
A spokeswoman for the Association of British Travel Agents said, “Visitor numbers were up 12 percent year-on-year before July 7 and after the first attacks we didn’t see any mass cancellations. I don’t think anyone is going to cancel a trip to London, but in the future would people consider the city a tourist destination?”
David Smyth, director of business planning at FootFall, a provider of retail business information, said there were “real concerns” with regard to tourism.
“We are now entering the main summer season and some people may start to view London as a regular target for terrorist activity, rather than seeing the recent events as a one-off,” he said in a statement. “This could lead to tourists, both from overseas and from other parts of the U.K., going to other places for their holidays, which could have a serious impact on both retail and the economy.”
According to London-based retail consultancy SPSL shopper numbers, which had started to rebound after July 7, were down 26.9 percent on the day of the second attacks compared with the same day in 2004. They fell 74.1 percent on July 7 against the previous year.
This story first appeared in the July 25, 2005 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.