I was in London this week; despite the warnings about not being able to move for the crowd of millions heave-hoing from one Olympic venue to the next. I needed to be be there for a number of meetings.
It was amazingly quiet! St Pancras was a bit busier than normal, probably down to the kettling one-way system – and the people stopping to be given free ice creams? Oh, and the very confusing signs.
I suspect that what has happened here is that the ordinary working population of London have stayed away. They have worked from home. Or travelled at times when the paying crowds are ensconced in their seats. In the week I heard an interview with a hotelier from the Lake District who told us that the Japanese tourists had all but gone – presumably at the Olympics. But in their place were some crafty cockneys – who have clearly abandoned ‘the smoke’ for the quieter lanes of Ullswater et al.
I had also heard some stories about Hotels trying to charge over-inflated room rates (£500 per night) who had seen bookings tumble and they were having to offer at £75-100. It serves them right for joining the rip-off Britain ranks.
But I can’t help but wonder if London (or perhaps more importantly – the UK) will have really benefitted from the games? Have the influx of people simply cancelled out those who are there everyday ordinarily. I can’t help but wonder. I guess though that we’ll never know. The evaluation of the cost benefit analysis of the games will be clouded by fuzzy headlines – around ‘profile’ and ‘feel-good’ rather than hard cash.