There's a lot to celebrate about the 2012 Olympic Games, but not everything has gone according to plan.
It's not so much the absence of gold medals for Team GB (at least, none at the time of writing) that smarts. Instead, it is the apparent lack of restaurant customers in some parts of central London and a dearth of tourists more generally in other areas of the country.
It seems, unfortunately, that the Mayor of London's efforts to warn commuters and tourists about congestion on London's transport network have worked rather too well.
The West End appears to have been particularly badly hit, with operators glumly reporting that pigeons are well on their way to outnumbering people at what was supposed to be a fantastically busy time of year. Richard Bradford, owner of Porters English Restaurant and Covent Garden Grill, attests to that (Olympic ‘ghost town' effect hits restaurant trade).
And it's not just the capital feeling the strain. While businesses in some parts of the country have felt excluded altogether, others hoping for a ripple effect, with tourists streaming out from London to get a taste of other parts of the country, have also been left disappointed.
Once again, as Thomas Noblett, managing director of the Langdale Chase hotel on Windermere in the Lake District, explains (Olympics won't lead to records), it is fear of high prices and overcrowding that seem to have kept people away.
There have been a great many success stories for the hospitality industry ahead of and during these Olympics, many of which have been covered in the pages of Caterer and Hotelkeeper.
But it is essential that the Government and the media get the word out about the best UK hospitality can offer, without fear of overcrowding or overcharging. Otherwise there may be many operators forced to count the cost of what was supposed to be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
By Neil Gerrard
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