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Local businesses hit by 2012 Olympics

Hard on the heels of the belated admission by those who should and almost certainly did know that tourism will not benefit from the Olympics comes another moment of clarity. Local businesses are beginning to get a taste of Olympic reality. In Stratford and Weymouth very different kinds of businesses are seeing how trade does not necessarily follow sport when the Olympics comes to town.

Olympic construction has caused disruption around the Olympic Park. In Stratford a spokesman for a local restaurant, Caribbean Scene Family, said “For a whole year the front of the restaurant was totally obliterated by deep excavation works carried out by the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA), and then when we thought it couldn’t get any worse, Thames Water entered the frame. We have been pursuing compensation since July 2009 but to date all claims have been dismissed by the ODA. We were told in 2005 when the Olympic bid was won that the ODA would engage and work with local businesses – sadly this promise seems to have been forgotten now that the big boys are in town.”

In Weymouth Paul Compton, who runs ferry service White Motor Boats, protested at the issuing of an order banning fishermen, ferry owners and diving companies from operating in Weymouth bay during sailing events without compensation: "We will all bend over backwards to keep out of the way and to make it a tremendous success. But if we can't sail, we can't live and if there's no compensation we will go bust. For the first time in this port the divers, fishermen and ferry operators have come together on this."

Local businesses should prepare for further bad news. Many may be under the impression things will pick up during the Games themselves. However, they should understand they will have no access to the Olympic Park or its immediate neighbourhood to sell their wares and will be subject to restrictions over how they advertise during the event. Local South African businesses were at first enthusiastic when they heard the World Cup was coming to South Africa. Then they discovered they would not be allowed to sell their goods in the vicinity of the stadiums. That was a privilege reserved for the multinational corporations sponsoring the event.

But many businesses will be hit by a triple whammy. VisitBritain's admission that tourist numbers may well drop means that, as occurred in Atlanta, those depending on this trade can expect to see a decline in activity because other tourists will stay away.

To further compound the problem up to half a million Londoners are expected to go on holiday to get away from the Games and transport problems during the Games may well add to that number so local businesses could also find they experience a decline in their regular trade.


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