The Olympics may have opened with a spectacular ceremony, but away from the pool, track and gym, there has been something even more spectacular: A drop in revenue.
With some ticket prices well into 3 figures, water at £1.60 a bottle and fish and chips at around £8, on top of air fares and hotel accommodation, and at a time of general austerity to boot, it may have been a bit too much to expect people from all over the world who had flocked to London for the Olympics to dig deep into their pockets in the shopping centres and theatreland as well. It may have been, and indeed has.
Undoubtedly many of the visitors will want to combine watching the Olympics with tourism, taking in a show, and such - London is renowned for its theatres, and stages some of the best shows in the world, including musicals.
There is though plenty of bargain basement or even free entertainment in Central London if you know where to look, like the British Library, which among many other things is currently hosting an Olympics exhibition. Whether or not the tourists are flocking there or doing some general sightseeing, they are definitely not spending their money, at least nowhere near as much as was hoped if not promised.
Last night, Tuesday, the BBC news sent one of its correspondents out and about in the capital, and he said that restaurant, bar and even hotel owners have reported a dearth of visitors. Theatre tickets are being touted on the streets (legitimately) for half price; Carnaby Street is virtually deserted. One upmarket hotel near Hyde Park was charging over £500 a night for its best twin room; now, this has been slashed to under £100 a night.
As of last night, China was leading the medal table with ten golds; the UK has yet to win its first gold, but this may be no mean feat as it appears to have killed the goose that laid the golden egg.
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