Monthly Archives: August 2012

VisitEngland launches local marketing campaigns.

VisitEngland has announced the start of a new partnership project to deliver local destination marketing and thematic campaigns throughout the country.

The three-year project, ‘Growing Tourism Locally’, will generate £365 million in additional tourism spend and has been funded by £19.8 million from the government’s Regional Growth Fund (RGF) with contributions from VisitEngland and the private sector.

Aimed at inspiring Britons to take more holidays at home, the project will stimulate employment to grow jobs in the tourism sector by 9,100 over the three years.

The investment focuses on working directly with destinations and the private sector to create a number of dedicated marketing campaigns throughout the country that will focus on specific areas and themes.

Destination campaigns will start to roll out over the next six months while themed campaigns will begin running in early 2013 to stimulate Easter and summer holiday bookings for next year.

Themes will focus on what England is most loved for including: Heritage, Coastal, Countryside, and Culture including Sport and Literature.

Business Tourism is also to receive support from the Regional Growth Fund and will build on VisitEngland’s work with destinations to grow the value of international conferences, events and conventions.

James Berresford, VisitEngland’s chief executive said: “The RGF money is a huge boost for tourism in England.

“This project enables our public and private sector partners to work together to stimulate tourism and ultimately grow jobs throughout the country with particular emphasis on some local areas.

“This is a great time to launch and we hope that by riding on the crest of a wave of a successful London 2012 Olympic Games we will harness the swell of national pride and inspire Brits to take the home advantage and holiday at home this year and beyond.”

Source Link-http://www.breakingtravelnews.com/news/article/visitengland-launches-local-marketing-campaigns/

Travel Editor
Best Value Tours
www.SightseeingTours.co.uk

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Experience London in a new and exciting way!

The Italian Job Mini Cooper London Tour.

Avoid the crowds with this truly bespoke and personal sightseeing experience around the most iconic sights in London. You will have the chance to travel in real style, as you hop into the coolest car in town, joined by your local and knowledgeable guide, ready to point out some of the most amazing stories and facts about one of the world’s most amazing cities!

The Italian Job Mini Cooper London Tour

The Italian Job Mini Cooper London Tour

With your private guide, in your exclusive groovy car, you will have the opportunity to tailor your tour to your needs and interest, requesting pick up and drop off location, specific interests, and areas of London that you want to discover. This really is the ultimate in exclusive and personal sightseeing travel!The tour will include all of the most famous sights of London, cruising through the famous areas famous across the world. You will discover Royal Parks and Palaces, the illustrious West end and its many theatres, and the Roman and Medieval London, with tales and stories to bring every part to life. Discover famous film locations, unknown stories, the best restaurants, and all the best shopping and markets.

The Italian Job Tour takes in all of London’s iconic sights: – Royal Palaces, Including Buckingham Palace and Kensington Palace – London Royal Parks – Whitehall, the home to many Government buildings and history (think James Bond !) – Big Ben – Houses of Parliament – London Eye – West End London – Famous for shopping, dining and Theatre – Mayfair, Bond Street, Regent Street – for upmarket boutiques and expensive jewellers – Medieval and Roman London – with history dating back to over 2000 years – Bank of England and London’s financial district – Tower Bridge – Tower of London –  And so much more

You will even have the choice of blue jumpsuits to really get you in the spirit, and you can discover where the gold bars are hidden! The Tour will last for 1.5 hours, and you have the opportunity to select a pick up and drop off location. The cars can carry up to three passengers each. You will have a knowledgeable and charming local guide ready to answer your every query, to help you get the most out of London long after your tour has finished. Step away from the crowds and experience some of the charm of the coolest cars from the 60’s.

You’ll feel like a true Londoner!

Schedule:

Directions Pick-up point: St James’s Park Tube Station Times

Tours depart at 10:00, 12:00, 14:00, 16:00, 19:00 and 21:00 daily, subject to availability.

The tour lasts approximately 1 hour.

Dates and Prices – £139.00 is per car for up to three people in a car. So for 2, £46.33 per person or 3, £39.50 per person

Full Details: http://www.sightseeingtours.co.uk/london-tours/london-coach-tours/the-italian-job-mini-cooper-london-tour-165

Travel Editor – Best Value Tours
www.SightseeingTours.co.uk

Lake District adverts in London

 

Lake District adverts in London

Tube posters Credit: Cumbria Tourism

 

Images of the Lake District have gone up around London in a bid to get more tourists to visit Cumbria.

 

Adverts will be along escalators Credit: Cumbria Toursim

 

Cumbria Tourism and Vist England have secured 750 thousand pounds worth of funding for a two and a half year promotional campaign. The posters are the first stage in the project to encourage people to head North. They are being shown in stations all over London until the middle of September.

 

Posters are being displayed in train stations Credit: Cumbria Toursim

 

Ian Stephens, Managing Director of Cumbria Tourism, said: “The Lake District is one of the UK’s strongest and most recognised destination brands, yet with increased competition from places like Scotland, Wales and the South West, it is now more important than ever for us to keep our offering fresh.

 

Thousands will see the adverts Credit: Cumbria Tourism

 

“There is the real potential to build on this campaign for the future and we at Cumbria Tourism will be constantly talking to potential partners to extend the campaign both terms of content and coverage to show to as wide an audience as possible the full range of things that Cumbria has to offer.’’

Source: http://www.itv.com/news/border/update/2012-08-21/lake-district-adverts-in-london/

Travel Editor
Best Value Tours – www.SightseeingTours.co.uk

Escpape the City and head for the coast!

Old-fashioned fun: 10 traditional UK seaside breaks
Not all British seaside resorts have to go the way of Brighton and Whitstable … here are 10 of the most gloriously traditional, with all the fun of the fair
Punch and Judy on the beach at Weymouth, Dorset
Punch and Judy on the beach at Weymouth, Dorset. Photograph: Alamy

Weymouth, west Dorset

As the sailing venue for the Olympics, Weymouth has made a sterling effort to move upmarket: boat-shaped cafes on the beach, uplighters on the seafront, upgraded deckchairs. But underneath the gloss, it’s the same old Weymouth, thank goodness. For a panoramic view, take an airlift up the shiny new Sea Life Tower – which opened in June (The Quay, 0871 423 2110, weymouth-tower.com, from £6.50) – and look across a curve of Regency terraces to the Purbeck Hills, across the harbour to the gardens of Nothe Fort (01305 766626, nothefort.org.uk) to the Isle of Portland. On the beach, there are donkey rides, Professor Mark Poulton’s classic Punch and Judy show (weymouthpunch.co.uk) and, according to the town’s Sand World (Preston Beach Road, 07411 387529, sandworld.co.uk, adult £6.50, child £4.50) the perfect sand for castles and sculptures. At Rossi’s retro parlour on the seafront, the ice-cream has been made on the premises since 1937 (01305 785557). The Stables Pizza and Cider House (Custom House Quay, thestabledorset.co.uk) is one of the new breed of restaurants that have popped up in the light of the Olympics. Cafe Oasis (01305 833054, cafeoasis.co.uk), on the beach at Bowleaze Cove, is a old favourite.

Stay at the funky Roundhouse (1 The Esplanade, 01305 761010, roundhouse-hotel-weymouth.com, doubles from £105) between the harbour and the beach; or B+B Weymouth (68 The Esplanade, 01305 761190, bb-weymouth.com, doubles from £75).

Eastbourne, East Sussex

Beachy Head, East Sussex
Beachy Head, East Sussex. Photograph: Patrick Ingrand/Getty Images

In the sunniest place in Britain – allegedly – a four-mile stretch of dazzling white shingle curves around Pevensey Bay. There are palm trees, tea dances in the Winter Gardens ballroom (every other Tuesday), rows of grand Victorian terraces planned by the Duke of Devonshire in the 1850s; a lovely bit of floral carpet bedding on a cheery promenade. Eastbourne is nowhere near as fast as neighbouring Brighton (think coach tours and pensioners in cardigans), but its Grade II*-listed pier is one of Britain’s finest – all rotundas and delicate wrought iron, strings of low-tech light bulbs and a curious little camera obscura that opens to the public in summer (eastbournepier.com). On the prom, the 1,600-seater Bandstand (01323 410611, eastbournebandstand.co.uk) serves up brass, tribute and big bands and musical firework displays beneath a 1930s dome clad in aquamarine terracotta. The chalk cliffs of Beachy Head (the highest point on the south coast) are within hiking distance.

Try the Printers Bar Brasserie for good-value British tucker (12 Station Street, 01323 430880, printersbarbrasserie.co.uk), or the Flamenco Tapas Bar (8 Cornfield Terrace, 01323 641444, flamenco-tapas.co.uk).

The Big Sleep (King Edwards Parade, 01323 722676, thebigsleephotel.com, doubles from £45 per night) has retro rooms on the seafront, but best bet for families are the self-catering suites at Guesthouse East (13 Hartington Place, 01323 722774, theguesthouseeast.co.uk, from £70 per night).

Cromer, Norfolk

The up-from-Londoners who swarm into nearby Holkham or Wells-next-the-Sea tend to bypass Cromer but what are they missing? Lovely sandy beach, for a start; flinty sea walls, rock pools, the zig-zag paths that wander between cliff-top gardens and the North Sea shoreline, the slender spire of St Peter and St Paul (at 160ft, it’s the tallest church tower in Norfolk).

You can watch the local fishermen haul crab boats out of the water with mini tractors, or take the coast path to Overstrand or Mundesley-on-Sea, but Cromer’s speciality is the gloriously tacky Seaside Special – the last of its kind to survive. Showing daily at the pier’s Pavilion Theatre (01263 512495, cromer-pier.com), it’s a repertoire of song and dance, variety acts and saucy jokes performed by artists nobody’s heard of. Perfect for a rainy day.

On the beach, the contemporary Rocket House Café (East Promenade, 01263 519126, rockethousecafe.co.uk) offers good, fresh food and great views. Boutique hotels? One day someone may do a Hotel du Vin on Cromer’s beautiful but decrepit Hotel de Paris, but try the Red Lion (Brook Street, 01263 514964, redlion-cromer.co.uk, doubles from £100 a night), or a sea view apartment at Tudor Villas (Cliff Avenue, 01263 823676, tudorvillascromer.com, from £400 a week).

Southend-on-Sea, Essex

Rossi's, Southend-on-Sea
Rossi’s, Southend-on-Sea. Photograph: VisitBritain/Daniel Bosworth/Getty Images

Let’s be honest, it’s Southend-on-Thames or EastEnder-on-Sea: Shane Richie in panto at the Cliffs Pavilion, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Starlight Express and seven miles of Essex beach that runs along the north shore of the estuary.

All this, and only an hour from the centre of London. Aside from the usual seaside bling (the twinkly lights of the pier head funfair, for example), there’s a Victorian cliff lift that trundles up from the promenade to pretty Prittlewell Square; you can cycle to neighbouring Leigh-on-Sea (for boatyards and clapboard cockle sheds) or up to the wilds of Shoeburyness. But Southend’s big draw is its pleasure pier. The world’s longest, it features a mile of railway line and, since 18 July, an end-of-the-pier Cultural Centre – a £3m, prefabricated arts venue complete with asymmetric roof and a geometry of glass and steel. The town’s first Comedy Festival took place on the pier last month (visitsouthend.co.uk).

Among places to eat, try Ocean Beach (Eastern Esplanade, 01702 611363, ocean-beach.co.uk), the subterranean Pipe of Port (84 High Street, pipeofport.co.uk), or Rossi’s ice-cream parlour on Marine Parade. For rooms with a view, head for 18th-century Royal Terrace, which has two decent hotels: Pier View (01702 437900, pierviewguesthouse.co.uk, doubles from £80 per night); and Hamiltons (01702 332350, hamiltonsboutiquehotel.co.uk, doubles from £60).

Sandown, Isle of Wight

The north coast yachting set can be a bit snooty about the Isle of Wight’s southern resorts but Sandown and Shanklin (they are more or less joined at the hip) have the best of the island’s long sandy beaches, the crazy golf, the sun on their seafronts, and you can get there via the Island Line which runs from Ryde to Shanklin in a restored 1930s Northern Line tube train (southwesttrains.co.uk, £5.20 return). Must-dos include Shanklin Old Village (for tea rooms and chocolate-box thatch) and Shanklin Chine (shanklinchine.co.uk, adult £3.90, child £2) – a woodland gorge of rare plants, red squirrels and the seaside Fisherman’s Cottage inn. The quaint Small Hope beach offers deckchair hire and a cafe. In wet weather, dive into Sandown’s Dinosaur Isle (01983 404344, dinosaurisle.com, adult £5, child £3.70), everything you need to know about the fossil-rich geology.

Best guesthouse is Bedford Lodge in Shanklin (4 Chine Avenue, 01983 862416, bedfordlodge.co.uk, doubles from £60); or near Ryde (20 minutes away), Vintage Vacations’ famous airstream caravan site now does B&B for two at £75 per night (vintagevacations.co.uk).

Minehead, Somerset

The largest of the post-war holiday camps, Butlins put the town on the map back in 1961. These days Butlins has a Skyline Pavilion – it looks quite cool from a distance. But Minehead has other things going for it: a mile of sand and pebble beach, views of the Bristol Channel, a farmers’ market, narrow backstreets and the odd bit of Somerset thatch, plus lots of worthwhile day trip potential. North Hill, the big hump of wooded cliff which overlooks the town, is the beginning of Exmoor national park. Below, by the harbour, a giant sculpture of a hand clutching a fold-out map marks the start of the 630-mile South West Coast Path. In the summer, steam trains run from Minehead to Bishop’s Lydeard on the charming West Somerset Railway (01643 704996, west-somerset-railway.co.uk, day pass adult £17, child £8.50), its vintage trains chuffing through 23 miles of stunning countryside. For castles, cobbled streets and a bit of posh, pop over to nearby Dunster. On the beach at Blue Anchor, just along the coast, the Driftwood Cafe (01643 821697) is worth a lunch visit. And if you are sticking around, check out the Castle Hotel in Dunster (5 High Street, 01643 823030, thedunstercastlehotel.co.uk, doubles from £90).

Bridlington, Yorkshire

The Land Train, Bridlington
The Land Train, Bridlington. Photograph: Richard Watson/Getty Images

Bridlington went up in the world when David Hockney moved in. The artist has a house on Brid’s South Shore, overlooking the town’s vast blue flag beach and the Nautical Mile (an architectural promenade of sculptures, modernist beach huts and artworks by Bruce McLean). The North Shore is a noisy jangle of dodgems, bingo and candy floss, but Bridlington is full of surprises. The Old Town (a mile inland) boasts galleries, vintage shops and one of the most complete Georgian streets in England. There’s a ruined medieval priory. The 1930s Royal Hall theatre is now the Spa Bridlington, a multi-use venue with a jazzed-up facade – an uneasy shade of orange – and a restored art deco interior (sign up for a free tour: South Marine Drive, 01262 678258, thespabridlington.com). There’s a busy old-salt fishing harbour (mostly landing crab, lobster and scallops) and some decent seafood restaurants. Try Naked Fish (22 Bridge Street, 01262 400266, naked-fish.co.uk) or the award-winning chippy on Marton Road (01262 678378 fishandchipsat149.co.uk).

Local beauty spots include Flambrough Head, or the nature reserve at Bempton Cliffs – for breathtaking views and 200,000 seabirds (rspb.org.uk).

Accommodation is not Bridlington’s strong point, but Kilham Hall (01262 420466, kilhamhall.co.uk, from £120 a night) has luxury rooms in a country house in nearby Kilham village.

Morecambe, Lancashire

On a damp day, with the wind blowing in off the Irish Sea, Morecambe verges on the melancholy. But the erstwhile “Naples of the North” has its moments – mainly the iconic Midland Hotel, the big smile of cruise-ship art deco which helped revive this tired Lancashire resort when it reopened in 2008. What else? World-class sunsets, cockles and potted shrimps. And Eric Morecambe (a statue of the town’s famous son does a “Bring Me Sunshine” number on the seafront). Photographers snap away at beached wrecks on gleaming mudflats, the largest expanse in the UK. Nearby, there’s the lovely Lune Valley, or Lancaster’s Williamson Park with its must-see Ashton memorial: a Taj Mahal-style folly, built in 1906, it offers breathtaking views across Morecambe Bay to the Lakeland Hills. Back on the seafront, pop into the Formica heaven of Brucciani’s tea room – another mid-century classic. And gaze at the wonderful Winter Gardens (closed since 1977) and weep. A restoration wannabe, as deserving as the Midland, the ornate Victorian theatre is occasionally open to the public (01524 422180, thewintergardensmorecambe.co.uk). Accommodation-wise, nothing rivals the Midland (Marine Road West, 0845 850 1240, englishlakes.co.uk, doubles from £112), unless you count the Ashton (Wyresdale Road, 01524 68460, theashtonlancaster.com, doubles from £125 a night), which offers theatrical townhouse rooms in the centre of Lancaster.

Mablethorpe, Lincolnshire

Jabba the Hut artwork, Mablethorpe
Jabba the Hut artwork, Mablethorpe. Photograph: Tony C French/Getty Images

The name says it all. Mablethorpe. Old-fashioned. First impressions are wall-to-wall amusement arcades, Motability scooters, buckets and spades, buns and burgers, and Mr Whippy. But Mablethorpe pulled a blinder when it reinvented itself as Beach Hut Central. Not just any old beach huts but designer huts, novelty showpiece huts; there’s one shaped like a gin and tonic – with a slice of lemon and a cocktail straw. Jabba the Hut is an onion of striped laminate sitting alone in a sand dune. Along the long strip of blue flag beach that connects Mablethorpe to Sutton-on-Sea, there are roughly 300 huts; they include some jolly 1950s huts on Queen’s Park between the sea and the Thomas the Tank Engine miniature railway. These, and others, are available to rent (01507 473641/443765, e-lindsey.gov.uk/beachhuts, from £10 for a half-day). Sadly they are all booked out for the resort’s fifth Bathing Beauties Beach Hut Festival (14-16 September, bathingbeautiesfestival.org) but you can go along for poetry, art and fireworks. Mablethorpe is a bit of culinary wasteland, but Poplar Farm’s Wild Coast Pantry at Sandilands, near Sutton-on-Sea (01507 443112, poplar-farm.org.uk) will do you a nice picnic for your beach hut (plum bread, for example, and local cheeses). It has a good farmhouse B&B, too (doubles from £75).

Llandudno, Clwyd

The Great Orme Tramway, Llandudno
The Great Orme Tramway, Llandudno. Photograph: Alamy

Set on a narrow isthmus between the Great Orme and the Little Orme – the two rocky headlands that sit either end of the town’s sweeping North Shore promenade – this is one of the prettiest of seaside resorts. And I’d say that, even on a rainy day. Its handsome Indian-Gothic pier is the longest in Wales; the seafront is trimmed with grand Victoriana laced with wrought iron; and from the West Shore you can look across the Conwy estuary to Snowdonia. Nice beach, too, But it’s the magnificent Great Orme Country Park (greatorme.org.uk) that provides all the action. You can walk up to its summit (or take an Edwardian cable tramway), whizz down its slopes on a PermaSnow ski slope (01492 874707, jnlllandudno.co.uk, practice session adult £13.50, child £10.50), zip over its Happy Valley gardens on a high-wire aerial cabin lift (look out for Kashmiri goats down below), or do the scenic Marine Drive circuit in a vintage bus (01492 879133, alpine-travel.co.uk, £5 adult, £2.50 child). A good stopover en route is the Rest and Be Thankful Café (01492 870004, restandbethankful.net). At the foot of the Orme, Escape B&B (48 Church Walks, 01492 877776, escapebandb.co.uk, doubles from £89) is the cool place to stay.

• All accommodation in this article B&B unless specified otherwise
Aricle by: Lesley Gillilan
guardian.co.uk,

Best Value Sightseeing Tours – www.SightseeingTours.co.uk

London Travel Tips. Getting around on the London Underground

The London Underground is one of the most advanced railway systems you’ll  find in any city in the world today.  Not only is it one of the most popular but it is also the oldest railway system that operates underground in the world.  In fact, it is over 150 years old.  The majority of people do not call it the London Underground, they call it the “tube”.

London undergroundConsidering the number of people that travel on the London Underground every single day, it is actually quite an efficient and well organised way to travel.  Tickets can be purchased from every station on the Underground by machine, these allow you access to get on the train that you want.  You then use these tickets to go through the exit barriers on the station that you’re getting off the Underground.  This really speeds things up as actual people are not required to check each individual ticket.  Obviously if you need help, then there is always the staff on hand to give you all the advice you need.

The safety on the London Underground is improving all the time.  There is a constant presence of police and security staff that patrol the stations as well as the trains themselves.  It was once considered to be quite risky to travel at night but that has changed with the new security measures and improvement of CCTV.

The London Underground itself consists of different lines which are all coloured differently so can be easily recognised.  You will see the maps that show you the different coloured lines at every Underground station, so you should easily be able to recognise which train you need to get on and which stations it will run through before it reaches the one you need. It will be hard to imagine how busy London would be without the London Underground.  It really allows for easy travel throughout the whole city and will make your journey a more pleasurable one.
More London Travel Tips here: http://www.londontraveltips.net
Transport for London: http://www.tfl.gov.uk/

Travel Editor –
Best Value Tourswww.SightseeingTours.co.uk

Bus and coach Travel in Britain.

If time isn’t the most important factor then travelling by bus or coach is the best and most affordable way to travel around Britain

Coach travel and Tours

Britain’s coach services are privatised and run by several different companies. Many of these companies offer special tours to popular historical destinations around the UK. For the widest selection of discount sightseeing tours – click here

Travelling by coach

Britain’s coaches are privatised and lots of operators run thousands of routes across the country. Coach travel is usually a lot cheaper than train travel, but takes longer.

The main coach companies are:

Many coach companies offer special tours to and from popular tourist destinations all over Britain. Coach tours are a great way to see the sights of Britain. They normally last for a few days and the price includes a hotel stay and sometimes discounted rates to popular attractions. Some companies offer discounts for group bookings.

Here’s a list of some UK coach tour operators:

You can buy coach tickets from our online shop (National Express only), on operator websites or at coach stations. You usually can’t buy tickets on board a coach, so it’s best to buy them in advance. Tickets are often cheaper the further in advance you book them.

Buses

Public buses outside London are run by a number of private companies. They’re a great way to get around cities and towns, and run regularly.

Every city and town in Britain has a local bus service. These services are privatised and run by separate companies. For local timetables and route information, check Traveline.

The cost of a bus ticket normally depends on how far you’re travelling. Single and return fares are available on some buses, but you normally need to buy a ticket for each individual journey (single tickets only).

You can buy your ticket when you get on board a bus, by telling the driver where you’re going. 1-day and weekly travel cards are available in some towns, and these can be bought from the driver or from an information centre at the bus station. Tickets are valid for each separate journey rather than for a period of time, so if you get off the bus you’ll need to buy a new ticket when getting on another bus.

For information on London Buses check out Transport for London’s bus pages.
To plan your journey across Britain by bus and coach, you could use VisitBritain: VisitBritain journey planner.

Best Value Tourswww.SightseeingTours.co.uk

Bargain Britain. Now is the time to visit London!

Grab a bargain and visit London whilst the Olympics are on.  Discount flights, cheap theatre tickets, last minute sightseeing, hotels reduced by up to 70%.

(Reuters) London tourist trade suffers from Olympic effect.

Tube trips are surprisingly easy, shopping on the high street is down in central London, hotel bookings and prices are off their peak, while theatres and London cafes suffer the Olympic effect.

Credit: Reuters/Brian Snyder
Economists have long warned that the Olympics may not provide much of a boost at this stage for Britain’s recession-hit economy as most of the construction work and investment has been done in the run-up to the Games. Now, early evidence appears to be bearing this out.

Warned repeatedly for months about the strain London’s transport system would experience with the expected arrival of 11 million visitors to the Games, Londoners and the usual non-Olympic seasonal visitors appear to have vanished from the underground train system, the shopping districts, theatres, hotels and abandoned other traders who benefit from tourism.

The British government’s budget watchdog OBR pointed out in March that some visitors may cancel or delay trips to London in order to avoid the crowds and potential travel disruptions.

“Given the uncertainties and the relatively small size of any possible effects, we assume that, apart from the ticket sales effects, the Olympics will not have a material effect on the quarterly path of GDP,” the OBR said.

Britain’s government is trying to boost foreign investment and stimulate the private sector, while keeping to a strict austerity budget, and hopes the Olympic Games – the first to be held in Britain since 1948 – will showcase Britain as a business destination.

Prime Minister David Cameron hopes that will help assuage critics who see the 9.3 billion pound (14.5 billion) cost of hosting the Olympics as too expensive given Britain’s strained finances.

London’s much criticised public transport system, the busiest in Europe, won early gold for easily carrying a million spectators through an unusually quiet early rush hour on the first full working day of the Olympics on Monday.

Travellers said buses and trains were working surprisingly smoothly with only a few hiccups, confounding dire forecasts of a transport meltdown in a city once notorious for slow trains, late buses and incoherent delay announcements.

London’s transport bosses expect an extra 3 million journeys per day during the Games on top of the usual 12 million, an Olympian test for an underground train network whose infrastructure in parts dates back to 1863.

“I’ve noticed how easy it has been to travel. With the influx of one million people for the Games, it’s made me wonder, where are they?” Paul Richardson, a 37-year-old photographer, told Reuters on Monday at London Bridge, which the authorities had warned commuters to avoid.

WORKING FROM HOME

Part of the lighter load has come from those office workers who have been instructed or allowed to work from home while the Olympics are on.

Consultancy firm KPMG told Reuters that it expected some 50 percent of its 5,500 staff in London to work flexibly at some point during the Games.

“That could mean working from home, or a different office, or varying hours,” a KPMG spokesman said.

Most theatres in London’s West End have not seen traffic increase or fall for advanced August bookings and shut down last Friday to avoid clashing with an opening Olympic ceremony, which starred Britain’s Queen Elizabeth, Society of London Theatre President Mark Rubinstein told Reuters on Tuesday.

He said the anecdotal evidence was that there seemed to be a lot of people on the streets of London, but much of the seasonal London tourist traffic seems missing from the West End.

“There’s been fewer people buying tickets on the day,” Rubinstein said.

Britain’s two biggest airports said they had seen no significant increase in the number of passengers flying abroad while Eurotunnel said outward bound bookings on Channel Tunnel trains were slower than usual.

More than 10 million people braved torrential rain and then scorching summer temperatures to see the Olympic flame on its 8,000 mile (12,870 km) journey across the length and breadth of the United Kingdom, according to Games organiser LOCOG.

Only one in 10 travellers is leaving London to avoid the Games, according to a survey by the Association of British Travel Agents. Seven out of 10 Londoners were even looking forward to the Games, the survey showed.

“Numbers taking holidays at this time are fairly consistent with past years,” said ABTA spokeswoman Victoria Bacon.

“While some have chosen to forgo a summer holiday during the Games, these have been balanced by those wanting to get away,” she said.

That statistical and anecdotal evidence contrasts with the doomsday predictions by some of the British media that Londoners would flock to foreign shores to avoid the security checks, crowds and chaos of the Olympics.

DISAPPOINTED RETAILERS

Retailers in central London have also reported disappointment with the Olympic effect so far.

Jace Tyrrell, spokesman for New West End Company, which represents more than 600 retailers, property owners and businesses in central London, said they expected a change in trading patterns, but that advice from Transport for London (TfL) warning commuters may be working better than intended.

“TfL’s advice in terms of capacity on the network has almost been too successful,” Tyrrel told Reuters, adding that shopper numbers were down but there were more high-spenders in the British capital.

“We need to change the messaging there, in terms of there aren’t the difficulties on the network that we thought there would be.”

However, retail areas near the Olympic Park such as the vast Westfield shopping centre at the entrance were booming.

John Lewis, Britain’s biggest department store group, said its store at Westfield Stratford, which borders the Olympic Park, saw sales double in the week to July 28.

Other London tourist attractions also complained that there has been a 30 to 35 percent drop in visitor numbers at the height of their summer high season, when schools are out and many people take their vacations.

Bernard Donoghue, chief executive of The Association of Leading Visitor Attractions, the body representing London’s top tourist attractions such as the London Zoo, St Paul’s Cathedral and Westminster Abbey said the statistics apply to overseas and domestic visitors.

“We and all of our members are incredibly positive about London and Britain hosting the Olympics not least because the tourism legacy of hosting the Olympics and having that global TV advertisement for Britain to the world’s largest TV audience will be brilliant for British tourism in the long term.”

HOTELS AND CAFES

Hotel wholesaler JacTravel said room rates are back to normal levels, as an early peak in prices has faded as LOCOG returns previously booked rooms to the market and as the Olympic Games deters normal London tourists.

Restaurants and other hospitality business owners such as cafes have also been bemoaning the quiet streets of London.

“It is very quiet,” said Duli Konjuhi, who runs a coffee stall right at the exit of Aldgate tube station in London’s City, the old banking district, where usually bankers and office workers line up for their after-lunch shot of caffeine.

“For us the Olympics are negative,” he said. “One of my friends, who runs a car wash near-by, said he made just 60 quid yesterday.”

An elderly British man, finishing a meal at a near-empty restaurant in the central Russell Square area where hordes of media catch coaches to Olympic venues every day asked the head waiter: “Where are all your customers?”

The waiter explained that many Londoners were working at home or avoiding the city for the duration of the Games.

“It’s a disaster for us,” he said.
Article link: http://uk.reuters.com/article/2012/07/31/uk-oly-london-day4-pix-idUKBRE86U1GB20120731

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