The past few day’s events in Britain, and London in particular have been beamed around the world, shattering the capital’s image as a fun, tolerant place where everyone gets along and there is no trouble.
Now some are wondering what effect the riots will have on tourism, which employs one in every 12 Britons and is vital to the economy.
“The atmosphere in London is not good, and because of the situation we’ve had 20 to 30 percent cancellations,” said Jerusalem travel agent Elishama Atias.
So far this year British tourism is up, but the riots may knock those figures back even if many insist things will quickly return to normal.
“A lot of people told us not to come. Two or three people at the hotel said not to come but we came because we’re only here for a day. We’re going back to the states tomorrow,” said teenage US tourist Mashal Lakhani.
“I think we’ve seen coverage worldwide which isn’t how we’d like to portray Britain and a couple of governments are a bit behind the curve.What they’re giving is advice like don’t go to areas where they’re riots. Yes, very sensible… For most tourists, these are outlying areas of London. They won’t see them,” said Visit Britain Director of Strategy and Communications Patricia Yates.
London’s next big tourist event is this month; the Notting Hill carnival, Europe’s biggest outdoor event, but which itself can sometimes get out of hand, and then there’s next year’s Olympics and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, which no-one wants to see ruined.