There is definitely a buzz if you venture near Olympic venues,but stroll around central London,go to theatres,visit museums and other attractions and you will barely know that there is a mega event happening in town.
Reason: after months of being told to stay away from central London and officials allowed to work from home,many Britons have simply heeded the official advice.
The result is few visitors and customers,hitting business and raising questions about drop in productivity.
Many people from other areas of the country have been put off by repeated forecast of traffic chaos and gridlock on transport infrastructure during the Olympics.
If summer holidays are usually a busy period in London,this year the situation is rather different.
In fact,some areas of London have been turned into “ghost towns” by the Olympics,according to The Financial Times,which reported today that even though 100,000 visitors had arrived for the event,the number is far less than the usual 300,000 visitors during this time of the year.
On the London Underground,the number of workers and officials travelling fell sharply with thousands of civil servants among those taking advantage of flexible working rules put in place for the Olympics.
They are allowed to work from home.
Some of the UK’s largest private companies,such as BT,Royal Bank of Scotland and Sainsbury’s,are allowing London-based staff to work in different locations or adapt their working hours.
According to the London Chamber of Commerce,an unprecedented 1.5 million of the 5 million people who work in the capital will work from home at some point over the next two weeks to avoid travel disruption.
Colin Stanbridge,the chief executive of the chamber,said: “We know that 80 per cent of companies offer some form of remote working,and I think that up to a million and a half employees will take advantage of that at this special time”.
Mark Field,a Conservative MP from London,said: “The message has been going out for months that London would be packed to the rafters – and the transport system would be under pressure – and that has put a lot of people off.
“The high-end hoteliers are fine because of all the official Olympic guests but many others have not benefited so much”.
Hotels have reduced prices,while others are groaning that customers is not easy to come by.
Nick Palan,managing director for Golden Tours,an open-top tour bus company,told the Financial Times: “It’s totally destroyed the market for us this summer. The hotels put up prices heavily earlier in the year and some of the
larger tour companies literally stopped selling London back in May. We’re down by over 20 per cent”.
Prime Minister David Cameron hopes to generate 13 billion pounds worth of investment linked to the Olympics,but industry estimates are not so optimistic,at least in the short run for smaller companies such as budget hotels,museums and other visitor attractions.