Tuesday Jan 31, 201205:05 PM GMT
Tourism dives by billions in Olympics
Tue Jan 31, 2012 2:36AM
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London is expected to lose billions of pounds in a tourism plunge during the 2012 Olympic Games due to a gaffe by the games' organizing committee.

The committee, Locog, reserved an overall 600,000 nights at hotels across Britain to accommodate officials, media and sponsors only to return 120,000 of them after finding there was a miscalculation.

The reservations raised prices, as hotel rooms became harder to find, forcing many would-be tourists to review their plans.

Now the extra hotel rooms remain unwanted with analysis by the Independent showing some one million beds, worth some £3.5 billion would be empty during the games in July and August.

According to leading tour operator Premium Tours, the reservation chaos will cost the tourism business one third of its annual earnings this year.

"Prices have been so high that tourists are moving elsewhere. Overseas wholesalers who traditionally push London have switched to other cities this year. If the Parisian and Italian hoteliers do their job then the tours may never return to London," Premium Tours managing director Neil Wootton said.

The company has itself achieved only 60 percent of its target sales for the summer by the end of January.

This comes as estimates by the Independent show only 80 percent - equal to 55,000 beds a night or one million beds overall -- of hotels' total capacity would be full in July and August this year while past years' figures show occupancy should be at least 90 percent during the period.

The prospects are especially gloomy for Britain as Tom Jenkins, the executive director the European Tour Operators Association, said “during the Olympic period itself, there is currently almost no demand from regular tourists” while the overall loss for the summer would be up to £3.5 billion.

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