A good deal of the 9 billion pounds of our money which the government is devoting to the Olympic cause is being spent on PR telling everyone how good the games will be for tourism. Every announcement stresses that the Olympics will be good not just for London but for the whole of Britain. The truth is very different, as has been revealed by the plans of the tour operators who bring groups in from the Far East. This is the time of year when they finalise plans for the next season, agreeing rates and securing dates. They have told us that next year they won’t be able to bring any tours to the Lake District between 15th july and 15th August because London hotel rooms just aren’t available for non-Olympic business and because the enhanced security in London will make it nigh on impossible to get around. My immediate reaction was to say – well, why not skip London and brings your groups to the Lakes, Stratford and Edinburgh? No chance, was the reply. For most visitors this is the trip of a lifetime and they don’t want to visit Britain without seeing London.
Rather surprisingly, after all the excitement at the TiC yesterday, I found myself being interviewed for both the BBC and ITV news channels about this story. The BBC showed some splendid shots of the new bedrooms and bathrooms at the Riverside Hotel, which have been especially designed with the Japanese visitor in mind by my very talented PA, Sally Schrieber and looked rather beautiful on my TV screen.