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  1. ITV Report

Sharp drop in visitor numbers after last summer's terror attacks

Merlin Entertainments, the owner of Madame Tussauds and Alton Towers, has laid bare the impact of last summer's terror attacks in London.

In a trading update covering 2017, the group said it saw a 17% plunge in visitors to its London attractions - which include the London Eye and the London Dungeons - after attacks took place during its critical trading period.

This led to a 5% fall in operating profit at Merlin's Midway division last year to £152 million, with like-for-like revenue dipping 1.2%.

After a strong start to the year, Midway like-for-like revenue growth slowed following the spate of terror attacks in the UK which particularly impacted trading in London.

The attacks led to a significant and immediate decline in domestic visitation, with international visitation falling from the summer onwards.

This resulted in an estimated 17% drop in the London visitor attraction market over the key trading period.

– Merlin Entertainments

Merlin confirmed that it will now shift investment from Midway, which includes Madame Tussauds and Sea Life.

It will redirect £100 million of investment away from its attractions between 2018 and 2021, putting the cash into developing new hotels instead.

A year that started well with positive momentum in almost every part of the group was ultimately defined by the unprecedented spate of terror attacks in the UK and poor to extreme weather throughout the summer season in Europe. Despite this, thanks to the efforts of our extraordinary team, we have reported overall growth in revenue, profit and cash flow, welcoming 66 million visitors - our highest on record. Merlin continues to evolve and, with attractive market fundamentals and the right strategy in place, we remain highly confident in the long-term prospects for the business.

– Nick Varney, Merlin Entertainments