Merlin strife as terror fears turn off tourists from London attractionsComments Off on Merlin strife as terror fears turn off tourists from London attractions
The owner of Madame Tussauds and the London Eye today said tourists are shunning some of its biggest attractions in the capital over fears about terrorism.
Merlin Entertainments, which was this week fined £5 million over the Smiler roller-coaster crash, said the massacres in Paris and Brussels have put people off travelling to big cities. “The Brussels attacks happened just at the point people abroad were making holiday decisions. We saw a lot of bookings fall off,” said chief executive Nick Varney.
Official figures show a 2% rise in visits to Britain in July but Varney said that was heavily influenced by trips to visit relatives, and underlying numbers are “consistently down”.
The pound’s Brexit-induced slump came too late to offset the weakness, he added. Varney anticipates a boost next year and vowed to keep investing in London. Revenues at Merlin’s Midway Attractions, which includes the Eye, Tussauds and the London Dungeon, have fallen 0.4% in the past three quarters but Merlin’s total sales are up 3.7%.
Varney said a recovery is emerging at Alton Towers after the Smiler accident, in which two teenagers lost limbs.
But volumes are well below 2014 levels and unlikely to rebound fully until 2018.