Ghost town London: Hunt says it's all about the future

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Hunt relies on future tourism amid ghost town London
Hunt relies on fututure tourism amid ghost town London

There was a subtle shift in rhetoric over the economic boost of the Olympics today, when Jeremy Hunt said he was concentrating on the future boost to UK tourism.

The sports secretary spent the week batting away claims from West End retailers, restaurants and theatres that sales were down amid the Olympic Games.

"There are [far] fewer European tour groups, probably accentuated by the euro crisis," Hunt said.

"Some tourist groups stay away from an Olympic host city because the logistics are so much harder. On the other hand we get a lot of new visitors who come to spend money in different ways."

He added: "It is very difficult to predict what will actually happen to consumer spending in one part of London during something like an Olympic Games because the upheaval is so huge."

"We are hoping to come away net positive in terms of the overall period of the Games but we don't know."

David Cameron predicted a £13 billion boost to the economy from the Olympics, but London is considerable quieter than usual, leading many to conclude that tourists have stayed away during the Games period while many Londoners chose these two weeks to take their holiday.

In a distinct change of tone, Hunt told a business summit in Lancaster House that the government was focused on a four-year tourism marketing drive playing on London's enhanced reputation after the Games, with a view to an extra 4.5 million visitors over the next four years.

"What the Olympics is doing is cementing London's reputation as one of the great cities," he said.

"What we are confident of is that following the Games, as a result of the large boost to Britain's reputation, there will be huge benefit to West End retailers, theatres, London's restaurants and hotels."

Yesterday, Olympic organisers said they were 'victims of their own success' after hearing London felt like a ghost town during the Games.

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