Security fears triggered by terrorist attacks across Europe have hit city centre tourism, attractions giant Merlin Entertainments disclosed today.

This has created a “challenging market”, compounding already difficult conditions in London, according to chief executive Nick Varney.

He was reporting half year results to June 25 showing operating profits down 2.2% to £70 million based on a 5.3% increase in revenues to £573 million.

Merlin saw visitors to its attractions in the period edge up by 1.1% to 28 million.

However, Alton Towers continued to suffer from “lower visitation” following the roller coaster accident at the theme park in June 2015.

Varney described the company’s first half performance as “resilient” – reflecting a diversified portfolio.

“As previously reported, many of the trends we experienced last year continued into 2016,” he said.

“Our Midway Attractions operating group has continued to see a challenging market in London, and Alton Towers, whilst seeing some recovery in mainstream leisure visitation, continues to experience significantly lower overall volumes.

“By contrast, and following two years of exceptional growth, our Legoland Parks operating group has continued to build on its strong performance.

“However, 2016 has also brought some new challenges.  Heightened security concerns, following attacks across Europe, have had an effect on city centre tourism, creating a challenging market and compounding an already difficult market in London.

“Against this backdrop, the Midway Attractions operating group’s performance represents a relatively robust result.

“Despite this difficult current trading environment, we remain confident about the medium and long term prospects for Merlin in both our existing estate and around our 2020 milestones.”