Restaurateurs complain London has become ‘ghost town’
LONDON, Aug 1 — Just as the large sections of unfilled seats at Olympic sporting events have stoked controversy early on in the Games, London restaurateurs are reporting a worrying drop in traffic this summer after the city advised citizens to work from home and avoid the city centrr to ease congestion.
Calling the city a ghost town compared to the same period last year, some of London’s most high profile restaurants are lamenting the effect the Olympics are having on business, as they say the mammoth event has succeeded in scaring off its citizens.
In interviews with trade publication “Caterer” and “Hotelkeeper”, disgruntled operators of Michelin-starred restaurants like Pied à Terre and dining hotspots Barrafina and Quo Vadis blamed the lack of foot traffic on “overhyped” messages from Olympic organizers as well as the city’s mayor Boris Johnson. In order to pre-empt congestion and traffic woes, Johnson asked residents to work from home, stagger working hours, work longer but fewer days, or take annual leave.
In addition to cancellations, restaurateurs are reporting fewer walk-ins, with Londoners opting to take their holidays during the Games or working from home.
“This week is massively down on the same time last year, while we are getting cancellations of bookings as people are heeding our wonderful mayor’s advice to stay out of central London and to work from home,” said owner Richard Bridgeman, Earl of Bradford. “How did he think that his words would affect businesses? It must have been fairly obvious to most people.”
Meanwhile, it’s not just restaurants that are worryingly empty during the Olympics. Less than a week into the Games, organizers have had to answer to a barrage of criticisms after TV cameras captured swaths of empty seats at popular sporting events like swimming and gymnastics.
The International Olympic Committee moved swiftly to try and quash speculation that the seats were reserved for corporate sponsors at the expense of the regular viewing public. — AFP/Relaxnews