London Eye owner sees terror impact on visits

Business & Economy 13 Jun 2017
London Eye owner sees terror impact on visits

London Eye owner sees terror impact on visitor numbers

Merlin Entertainments said demand for day-trips to its attractions in the capital had been weakened by a series of attacks.

Image: Police officers stand at the exit as people are seen inside the pods on the London Eye

By John-Paul Ford Rojas, Business Reporter

The company behind some of Britain's biggest tourist attractions including Madame Tussauds and the London Eye said visitor numbers had been affected by recent terrorist incidents.

Merlin Entertainments said its London division saw a "softer domestic, day-trip market" after the Westminster attack in March with a "further deterioration" after those in Manchester and at London Bridge.

Shares fell 3% in early trading – later closing 2.7% down.

The company also said a number of its UK theme parks – which include Legoland, Chessington, Alton Towers and Thorpe Park – had been "adversely affected in recent weeks by the terror attacks and subsequent heightened security measures".

However, Merlin also said that visits by foreign tourists to its London sites had been boosted by the weakness of the pound – making their holidays to the UK cheaper.

It said this had continued in the immediate aftermath to the Westminster attack.

But the company was "cautious on trends in foreign visitation over the coming months" since the impact of the terror incidents would take time to filter through to holiday bookings.

Smiler ride
Image: Several people were injured on the Smiler ride at Alton Towers

Merlin chief executive Nick Varney said: "The impact of recent terror attacks on our London attractions is unclear at this stage.

"What is clear however is that London has bounced back before, and will do again.

"I have every confidence in the long term resilience and growth trajectory of the market.

"London is very much open for business, welcoming visitors from the UK and from around the world to this exciting and vibrant city."

Merlin, which operates more than 100 attractions around the world, earlier this year reported a 17% rise in annual profits, helped by the collapses in the pound after the Brexit vote.

Its wider performance has been overshadowed over the last couple of years by the crash on its Smiler ride at Alton Towers in June 2015 that resulted in a number of serious injuries.

Two teenagers – Vicky Balch, then 19, and Leah Washington, then 17 – needed leg amputations when the ride collided at 90mph with an empty carriage, 20ft above ground.

Merlin was fined £5m over the incident last September.

Original Article

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