David Cameron has called for people to “come back into the capital” amid concerns that the city has become a “ghost town”.
With many commuters and non-Olympic tourists said to be avoiding London, the prime minister has declared the city as being “open for business” now that the “threat of meltdown on the traffic system” has been defeated.
Speaking to Sky News on Thursday, he said: “People said that London wouldn’t cope, the traffic would grind to a halt, the capital city wouldn’t manage, that hasn’t been the case either. I think the authorities have done a good job.
“Clearly there is a challenge now though to say to Londoners, to the British public who’ve helped us to, as it were, defeat the threat of meltdown on the traffic system, to say to them now actually there is a case, London’s working well, it’s open for business, come back into the capital, come and shop, come and eat in London’s restaurants and let’s make sure that all of London’s economy benefits from this.”
Cameron also explained that the Games will provide long-term opportunities for businesses.
“I want to get business here, I want to get investors here and we’ve had some big successes. Warner Bros for instance have said they are going to make their next big Tom Cruise movie right here in Britain,” he added.
Meanwhile, culture secretary Jeremy hunt said London hosting the Olympics was “the best possible gift you could ask for” and people should start adopting a long-term view.
Although footfall figures have revealed that 5% fewer people have been through the theatreland and shopping focal point of the West End, Hunt said the Games had given London a global “cachet” that will live long in the memory.
Bernard Donoghue, Director of the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions, highlighted the fact that Londoners have been staying away from the city in the media earlier this week and he is glad Cameron is trying to reverse that.
“We’re delighted that Cameron is backing our call that there has never been a better time to visit London,” he said.
“We always knew that the tourism benefit would be long term rather than short term, but we really hope Londoners get to benefit from a quieter London and we want to see people coming back after the games leave.”
Donoghue said the fact that some of London’s most popular attractions have been showcased alongside the events should boost tourism.
“We always knew that one of the great assets behind the Olympics bid was our stunning icons and they have been really well used in coverage all over the world,” he said.
“The audience for the opening ceremony and the whole of the Games is the biggest TV advert for Britain and we now want to turn those viewers into visitors.”
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