UK Riots: What Long-Term Effects Could They Have?

London's reputation as a place to do business has been damaged by the recent riots, according to the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI).

A poll of 183 businesses conducted by ComRes on behalf of the LCCI revealed that 83 per cent of London firms believed that the capital's reputation had taken a hit, whilst 73 per cent of firms agreed that these riots have highlighted the potential threat of civil disorder during the Olympic Games next year.

The UK may face a short-term bill of up to £100m following four days of disorder across the country, but the long term economic implications are less clear.

John Walker, National Chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, warned of the potential longer-term effects of rioting to the national economy.

“This disruption is causing untold damage to individual businesses, our extremely fragile economy and our image, less than a year ahead of the Olympic Games. Our cities simply cannot afford for this to continue and it is impossible to estimate how much this is going to cost the business community."

Fears have also been raised about the impact of rioting on London's image as a tourist destination. Several countries, including Australia, Germany, and Canada have advised citizens to take extra care in the capital. The US Embassy in London has also brought the disturbances to the attention of US citizens.

Colin Stanbridge, Chief Executive of the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), said:

"This could not have come at a worse time for London's business community, with the capital's firms already bearing the heavy cost of the continuing economic turmoil. At the peak of the tourist season and with only a year to go until the London 2012 Games, this really isn't the image we want to present to the world."

Meanwhile, VisitBritain has pulled a marketing campaign aimed at attracting visitors to the UK as it was deemed to be inappropriate to show in the context of widespread rioting and looting.

However, the tourist board appeared confident that there will be no long-term negative effect on UK tourism. VisitBritain Head of Marketing Joss Croft told Marketing Week:

“We need to recognise that people’s perceptions of Britain are formed over many decades, if not centuries, and these incidents are not likely to have a long-lasting effect. We think this will all blow over quite quickly.”

The travel website told the Huffington Post UK on Tuesday that there had been no discernable change in bookings to UK from abroad and no spike in cancellations.