The recent riots in London have damaged the city’s reputation as a business destination and raised concerns about civic unrest during the Olympic Games in 2012, a new poll reports.
In the poll of London firms, conducted by the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry, 83 per cent of businesses believed the city’s commercial reputation had suffered, while 73 per cent agreed the riots highlighted the potential threat of civil disorder during the London 2012 Olympic Games.
Nearly 50 per cent of London businesses were concerned about riots moving into their area and 59 per cent are making precautionary contingencyarrangements. A quarter of the businesses surveyed reported riots had already taken place in their area of London. The poll of 134 businesses was conducted by ComRes from 9 to 10 August.
“These figures highlight the fact that the riots could not come at a worse time for the capital,” London Chamber of Commerce and Industry CEO Colin Stanbridge said. “With the Olympics only a year away, the eyes of the world were already turning to London and unfortunately the events of the last few days are what international audiences have seen.”
In response to how this could impact events business, Meetings Industry Association (MIA) chief executive Jane Longhurst stressed the strength of London’s longstanding reputation for international business tourism, meetings and events.
“The capitol’s reputation has been developed over many years and is based on a consistent track record of success, making it strong and resilient,” she said. “Experience shows that any poll conducted in the immediate wake of events such as the recent riots, when emotions are still running high, willproduce extreme outcomes, but these opinions are generally short lived.
“Once it has been shown that the government and police have taken control of the situation, which we are confident they are now doing, London’s reputation on the international stage will recover very quickly.”
Event agencies and venues in Manchester and Birmingham told EN that events were taking place as planned this week. However, several cultural and sporting events were postponed or cancelled in London earlier this week in the wake of severe rioting from 7 to 9 August.
Association of Event Organisers (AEO) CEO Austen Hawkins was also confident events would not be affected long-term by the riots.
“For international events in the short term, some visitors may question the whether it is safe to visit the UK for an event,” he said. “However, memories are short and the UK is by no means the only country to suffer such and unrest and I therefore suspect that the riots will not have too disastrous an effect in events.
“For events with national attendance, those visitors who live and/or work in majority cities will carry on with their normal daily life. For visitors who live outside major conurbations, some may choose not to attend an event but again memories are short and this will be short-lived. That said, this assumes there is not more trouble; if the violence were to continue then that could have a serious impact.”
Hawkins also pointed less events were taking place in August because of the summer holiday season, thereby lowering the risk to current events. The AEO had not heard of any cancellations or postponements.
According to European Tour Operators Association (ETOA), cancellations across its members for the week following 10 August in London were less than 0.2 per cent. Some are also choosing to rebook.
“Distressing though the scenes are, no major landmarks and no significant numbers of tourists have been caught up in the trouble,” ETOA said in a statement. “Secondly, such riots occur nearly everywhere. The significance lies in how a country is seen to deal with it.
“The story of the last few nights, played out on television sets throughout the world, has been of an unarmed police establishing order.”
Image: George Rex
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