Olympics combine with heavy taxes to knock tourism outlook

 
Julian Harris
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THE OLYMPIC Games put a big dent in tourism in London over the course of the summer, an industry group said yesterday.

Two thirds of tourism firms surveyed by UKinbound said that visitor numbers for the July to September period were down compared to a year earlier.

And while some commentators have suggested that the Olympics could boost tourism to London in the long run, UKinbound says that government policies are blocking any likely progress.

“Worryingly, over 50 per cent of members surveyed agreed that UK tourism optimism is evaporating due to the government’s tourism policy being at a standstill,” it said, citing high levels of air passenger duty (APD) and VAT.

“Optimism in the industry is delicate and dependent on the government’s treatment of barriers to entry and therefore it would be good to see action in areas where there has only been stagnation thus far,” said Mary Rance, CEO of UKinbound.

Last month the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions reported a 15 per cent drop in visitors from June to August.