Just days after admitting the London Games were having a “patchy” impact on some businesses, Lord Mayor of London Boris Johnson has welcomed figures showing a rise in visitor numbers to busy tourism and shopping areas in the city.
Contrary to reports of theaters, restaurants and tourist areas in London being deserted for fear of Games crowds, footfall – the number of people entering a business – over the past few days has actually increased in the London areas of Piccadilly, Haymarket, Shaftesbury Avenue and St James’s.
According to Heart of London, the organisation representing businesses in these areas, during the first working week of the Games, footfall was up 11.6 percent on the previous week and 16.2 percent on the same week in 2011, the Press Association reported.
Additionally, Mr Johnson announced that the London Underground carried more passengers on the middle Friday of the Games than on any other day in its history with 4.4 million customers – the previous record had been set the day before when 4.3 million commuters used the Tube.
"This is testimony to years of meticulous planning and billions of pounds in investment which combined has ensured that athletes, spectators, officials and media are being ferried smoothly to their events," he said.
In related news, VISA has announced that international travelers to London spent US$700 million on their accounts during the first week of the Games, with the top spenders hailing from the US, Japan, France, Italy and Australia.
According to VISA, spending categories that experienced the greatest activity were “services” ($133.7 million) – including items such as shoe and jewelry repair and spas, “entertainment” ($95.5 million), “airlines” ($82.9 million), “other retailers” ($71.8 million) – including bike shops, book stores, antique shops and drug stores, and “hotels” ($69.3 million).
Meanwhile, while their compatriots top the medal tally, Chinese visitors to the Games are spending a record average of £203.04 (US$316.36) per purchase, local Chinese media reported.
Source = e-Travel Blackboard: M.H