Greenwich remains a magnet for tourists, but the UK’s planned exit from the EU has affected the industry (photo: Mark Ramsay used under Creative Commons)

Tourists are being put off visiting Greenwich because of concern over the country’s impending departure from the European Union, the borough’s cabinet member for culture has warned.

Stats from last year show that Royal Museums Greenwich – the National Maritime Museum, Cutty Sark, Old Royal Naval College and Queen’s House – had seen a two per cent decrease in visitor numbers, with numbers feared to be down still further in 2019.

At a scrutiny panel meeting on Tuesday, Miranda Williams said that Brexit had caused a problem with attracting visitors to south east London (at four minutes in the video below).

Williams said: “Brexit has had a really bad knock-on effect on our visitor numbers. There is no two ways about it. There is great concern in the sector about the utter uncertainty that it is creating amongst our international travellers and they are being put off.

“But still, by comparison our averages are doing OK but Brexit is certainly not a good thing in terms of the tourism market. If you speak to the National Maritime Museum they will tell you that their bookings are right down. They were down last year, and they are down on two three years ago.

“That’s anecdotal and we will have to wait until the end of the year for the full figures.”

The downturn in visitors appears to be in the last two years, with 2017 boasting a record breaking 19,000,000 tourists coming to the borough – higher than the Olympic year of 2012.

About 16,000 people in the borough are employed in the tourism industry.

The council hopes that the £31m Creative District in Woolwich will boost the sector and compete with arts venues such as those on the South Bank.

Greenwich Council has backed national calls for a new referendum on Britain’s exit from the EU, with leader Danny Thorpe previously warning councils hadn’t been given enough money from the government to prepare for a split.

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Tom Bull is the Local Democracy Reporter for Greenwich. The Local Democracy Reporter Service is a BBC-funded initiative to ensure councils are covered properly in local media.
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