Nov. 07 - Tourism with a difference - along with seeing the sights, visitors to London can now take part in a two-day walking tour of the UK capital's financial district which tries to explain how growing debt and problems at the banks led to the financial crisis. Joanna Partridge reports
UPSOUND "Welcome to the heart of the City of London" Forget seeing the sights, or going to churches and art galleries. The latest attraction for London visitors is a two-day walking tour of the UK capital's financial district - which tries to explain the financial crisis. The first day's guide is David Buik, who has 50 years' experience of working in the City. He says many people want to learn what went wrong in the financial sector. SOUNDBITE: David Buik, City analyst, saying (English): "They don't understand why banks' balance sheets allowed themselves to get into a horrendous state of disrepair and frankly they want some explanation and they're entitled to it." SHOTS OVER CITY OF LONDON The organisers, Political Tours, give participants access to experts, to describe how debt grew and how the banks got into trouble. UPSOUND "Everyone thinks derivatives are the cause of the credit crisis." The tour go-ers can also ask questions of analysts like Chris Derbyshire from Seven Investment Management. That was the draw for small business owner Peter Glanville. SOUNDBITE: Peter Glanville, Tour participant, saying (English): "You don't normally meet people from the City. So, yes, this is more informative, rather than just what you might read in the papers." SHOTS WALKING TOWARDS KINGS CROSS The tour also looks at one of the key barometers of the economy - construction. PTC Recent recessions haven't completely stopped large scale construction projects, like here in the centre of London. But here in the UK and other major world economies, we're still feeling the effects of the financial crisis, several years on. From people who've lost their jobs, to those who can't secure a loan to buy a house, to small businesses who aren't able to borrow from the banks. And because the economy affects all of us, we all want to learn more about it. At least that's what Nick Wood hopes. He's the founder of Political Tours. They already take clients to places like North Korea and Kosovo. Nick hopes to run the financial tour three times a year. SOUNDBITE: Nick Wood, Political Tours founder, saying (English): "I'm convinced that there are people who are interested enough in what's happening with the financial crisis to see this as an opportunity to be able to ask questions of bankers, of analysts, of people who are involved on a day-to-day basis with the crisis that can give them first-hand information. And I think that's something people are ready to spend two days doing." It's not just time they'll spend. The tour also costs around £400. That didn't put off actor Duncan Bell. SOUNDBITE: Duncan Bell, Actor, saying (English): "I just wanted to kind of, you know use the chance to meet people who work in banking, or do that sort of thing for a living, and hear their justification for what's gone on and maybe just understand a bit about it." It might not be as visual as some sightseeing trips but it does offer a real insight into what is already a key event in modern history.