As images of the UK riots are being broadcast around the world, we consider the affect on the UK hospitality industry.
The worst rioting the UK has seen in decades started out as a peaceful protest in London and soon descended into opportunist violence and vandalism on an epic scale. Events in London over the weekend soon spread into other major UK cities including Liverpool, Birmingham and Manchester.
UK Riots – The Impact on Hotels
City centre hotels and restaurants have been extra vigilant during the riots but expect a raft of cancellations in the coming weeks – particularly harmful considering that this is the peak season for the UK tourism industry.
“Our hotel is in Hackney, where yesterday there were riots on the streets,” said City Inn Express, Hackey general manager, Shah Nawaz in an interview with Breaking Travel News.
“As for our hotel, we were not disrupted. But guests were afraid and wanted to check-out and go home. Now the riots are in the media we have seen a decline in future bookings.”
“We are totally empty for the next few weeks.”
In Enfield, 200 guests at Premier Inn had to be evacuated during the riot when the neighbouring Sony CD distribution centre erupted in flames.
UK Riots – Long Term Impact
Considering the unprecedented nature of the latest spate of rioting across the UK, it is difficult to ascertain the long-term impact on the tourism industry.
“It is currently too early to anticipate the effect on tourism and inward investment but we are monitoring the situation and we will work with the industry to respond to specific issues as they arise,” said London and Partners in a statement.
“Past experience tells us that London recovers very quickly from such events and we will focus on recovery activity as soon as it is viable to do so.”
With the Olympics just around the corner, it is feared that the images being broadcast around the world seriously undermine the UK’s credibility as an Olympic host – something which could seriously interfere with plans to capitalise on the tourism potential of London 2012.
“The Olympics is, overwhelmingly, a domestic event,” said European Tour Operators Association executive director, Tom Jenkins.
“British people won’t be put off from visiting the Olympics in Stratford because a year earlier shop windows were broken in Hackney.”
“Events like these have occurred in Western cities such as LA, Madrid and Paris. Those in the UK are abnormal, and so newsworthy, even this August. But they have been largely confined to secondary shopping centres in the suburbs. No iconic landmarks have been affected. So long as the damage is contained outside of central London, then there will be little long-term impact on demand for London as a tourist destination.”
Even the most optimistic commentators agree that the riots are far from over. The police authorities are finding difficult to predict and events could go either way: dissipate or gain momentum in other cities.
The longer the riots continue for, the more disastrous the impact on the UK’s tourism industry.
“The Riots of the past few days, particularly in London, are most unfortunate for the global image of the UK,” said UKinbound chief executive, Mary Rance. “Not just ahead of the Olympics but for the country’s short term and long term inbound tourism industry.”
“With scenes of looting, violence and lawlessness flashing across TV screens across the globe it is absolutely vital that the Government and its agencies, as well as the UK tourism industry, work hard to put things in context.”
“London is still one of the greatest cities in the World with an enviable record of safety.”
Hotel-industry.co.uk has published a range of resources for hotels looking to improve their security:
- Hotels Dealing with Terrorist Threats
- Hotel Security: Evolving Security Threats
- Safe Hotels: Securing Safe Hotels in the UK
- The Importance of Anti-Terrorism Training