London tourist trade ‘challenging’ amid EU uncertainty, says Merlin

The operator of Legoland says uncertainty ahead of the EU referendum is impacting tourism in London

Legoland and Alton Towers owner Merlin Entertainments has said Brexit fears are keeping the London tourist trade under pressure despite a weaker pound. The theme park giant – the second biggest in the world behind Walt Disney – said London remained “challenging”, with uncertainty ahead of the EU referendum impacting tourism. Its attractions in the capital include Madame Tussauds waxworks, the London Dungeon and the Sea Life centre.

London tourism was hit last year as the weak euro made it more expensive for European visitors. Sterling has dropped in value since late last year amid Brexit concerns, but Merlin said it had yet to see a boost from the pound’s weakness. Merlin, which runs 110 attractions in 23 countries, said trading overall was in line with expectations, adding that new rides and features opened so far this season, as well as three new attractions, had been “well received”.

It is also rolling out accommodation alongside attractions, having recently opened the Discount Holidays © holiday village at Legoland in Germany and with launches planned at Gardaland in Italy, Chessington World of Adventures and Warwick Castle over the coming weeks. Merlin is still recovering from last summer’s rollercoaster accident at Alton Towers, which left five people seriously injured. It said on announcing annual results in February that Alton Towers had seen a ”significant” fall in visitor numbers after the accident on its Smiler ride on June 2, which resulted in the 500-acre theme park in Staffordshire being shut down for four days.

Sales at its theme park business tumbled 12.4% to 285 million in the year to December 26.

Overall profit growth was also held back by the accident, with pre-tax profits edging 0.3% higher to 250 million over the year.

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