London hotels busy but not full
LONDON, 26 July 2012: Just a day ahead of the opening of the Olympic Games European Tour Operators executive director, Tom Jenkins, said it was already a success as far as games related hotel bookings are concerned.
The Games officially open 27 July and close 12 August.
“Hard figures are difficult to come by, but our soundings indicate that London hotels are occupied by more than 60,000 foreign guests per night during the games,” he said.
The city has over 125,000 rooms available.
ETOA compared bookings with other Olympic venues claiming Sydney had about 25,000, Athens 13,000 and Beijing 27,000 per night.
“This equates to more than 45,000 hotel rooms; more than three times the total bed-stock of Athens,” Mr Jenkins reported in a press statement yesterday.
However MrJenkins admitted the performance was well below a normal summer season.
“This is below what would normally be expected. London would anticipate more than 300,000 foreign visitors a day in August, the vast majority of them staying in hotels. But early August in London is not normal, but judged against previous Olympics, this is a major achievement.”
The so-called “Olympic Family”: a term covering Olympic officials, government representatives, sponsors, sponsors’ guests, media and the relatives of the participants occupied roughly 8,000 rooms in Sydney, 4,000 in Athens and 8,000 in Beijing.
This time round ETOA expects “family will occupy more than 25,000 rooms in London. This is more than three times more than Beijing and six times more than Athens.
While there has been plenty of criticism of hotels raising rates to grab a quick profit from the Games, “Olympic Family” hotel rates were marginally above a benchmark rate measured during August 2008, 2009 and 2010.
“As two of these years were light in terms of demand, LOCOG has obtained rooms substantially below the market rates that were being charged in 2011. Thus half of the foreign visitors coming to London –such as the IOC, the corporate sponsors and the media – are enjoying exceptionally inexpensive prices,” Mr Jenkins noted.
LOCOG made initial bookings for roughly 45,000 rooms per night for the “Olympic Family”. It secured rooms for third parties to sell and that is expected to average out a 25,000 rooms per night.
ETOA argues there are surplus rooms in the city despite the media hype that said the city would be overbooked and overpriced.
“ Many hotels are offering rates at or below what they were charging last year. It is possible to book tickets at theatres and make reservations at restaurants more easily than at any time during the last year.
“Incoming flights are available at very low prices: you can fly into London during the games from Germany for as little as €50. No other Olympic Games has been so open for last-minute business.
“There is a misperception that London will be full in early August. It is well known in the tourism industry that every Olympic Games scares away conventional tourists. Whatever the reality, potential visitors think that the destination will be crowded, overpriced and difficult to get around.”
In August, the city would usually accommodate 300,000 foreign and 800,000 domestic tourists daily. They are not expected to arrive while the Games are on.
London Transport will be hard pressed to cope and Londoners are being encouraged to work at home during the Games’ weeks.
“If only 20% of the 3 million people who travel to work each day are persuaded not to travel, space for a further 600,000 passengers will be freed up,” the ETOA director said.
He concluded: “In the context of Olympic tourism, London is set to deliver an outstanding performance. And there is still plenty of space: this is excellent news for last-minute visitors to London”. (ETOA press statement)