Tourists Abandon London Amid Terror Fears

Jack Taylor/Getty

Tourists are abandoning London for more rural locations in Britain as fears of terrorism grow.

Figures from the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions (ALVA) show venues outside the capital reported a significant increase in visitors last year, while attractions in London, such as the British Museum and the Natural History Museum, experienced a large fall.

Amongst the most significant falls was the British Museum, which remains the most visited attraction in Britain despite a losing nearly 400,000 visitors last year, while both the Natural History Museum and the Victoria & Albert Museum each lost 12 per cent of their visitors in a single year.

Meanwhile the Southbank Centre, an arts complex on the south bank of the River Thames, lost nearly a quarter of its visitors in 2016.

ALVA Director Bernard Donoghue said terror attacks in other European cities had put people off visiting London.

The Times reports him as saying: “There was concern among overseas visitors that London might be next. We did see a displacement out of central London.”

Meanwhile, venues outside the capital have experienced a significant rise.

Scotland has enjoyed a 15.6 per cent increase in visitors, with Edinburgh’s galleries especially popular. Visitors at Tintagel Castle in Cornwall also rose by nearly 20 per cent, while Battle Abbey in Sussex saw a rise of 29 per cent.

Despite the terror fears in London, online queries for flights from European cities to Britain soared in the wake of the Brexit vote last year, with people rushing to find bargains and the pound sterling fell in value.

AFP reported that searches for flights from France to Britain surged 130 per cent just one day after the referendum, with similar spikes in searches from Germany, Spain, and Finland.

“It is too early to say for sure but the first trends we have seen and the devaluation of the British currency suggest that interest in the UK as a destination will be maintained in the weeks ahead, especially for European passengers interested in ‘city breaks’ to London to go shopping,” booking site said in a statement.