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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, July 24, 2005

Dip in tourism feared after London attacks

Associated Press


LONDON — Retailers and tourism officials already digesting the fallout from the first deadly bombings in the British capital two weeks ago warned that the second round of attempted attacks on Thursday had severely dampened the prospects of a prompt rebound in both sectors.

As armed police stormed a subway train in pursuit of a suspected terrorist, shooting him dead, the country's Tourism Industry Emergency Response group met for the second time in as many weeks and concluded that the effects would be significant.

Several tourists in the city Friday took the stoic approach, saying they had made little change to their itineraries other than opting to avoid public transportation as much as possible.

While most tourists already here are making the most of their vacations, the industry is more concerned about the effect on those who are still to plan their trips.

Analysts had hoped the negative impacts on the tourism and retail industries from the first explosions that killed 56 people would have a relatively short-term effect on visitors.

The World Travel & Tourism Council Crisis Committee has predicted that U.K. visitor arrivals in 2005 might decline by about 588,000 from the previously forecast 30.95 million, but expected the ill-effects of the July 7 bombings to have dissipated by 2007.

That was before bombers attempted to set off another four devices on Thursday. The bombs did not detonate and there were no fatalities, but they left the city shaken.

"I think the most sensitive nature of the economy is going to be tourism," said Philip Shaw, U.K. chief economist at Investec Bank. "I think it's fair to say that tourists will be put off London."

The Tourism Industry Emergency Response group, which includes tourism organization VisitBritain, the government's Culture Department, British Airways and the Association of British Travel Agents, said spending by overseas visitors is likely to be $526 million less than industry expectations factoring in just the July 7 bombings.

VisitBritain spokesman Elliott Frisby said that after the first attacks, there was a small number of cancellations or postponement of trips, with most inquiries about the logistics of traveling.

More cancellations or decisions not to travel will eat into a tourism industry that contributes 4 percent to Britain's total gross domestic product of $2.1 trillion. London accounts for around 50 percent of foreign tourism alone and provides a gateway for people traveling to other areas.

Last week's "events are going to have a serious impact on tourism," Frisby said. "I think it's going to become a lot more serious for the industry."