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UK tourism losing billions due to Olympics

travel Updated: Jan 30, 2012 16:40 IST
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Britain's tourism industry is set to lose billions as organizers of the London 2012 Olympic Games have been accused of scaring off visitors through a damaging rise in hotel rates. 

The organizing committee for the London 2012 Games, LOCOG, revealed yesterday that it had puffed up the number of rooms required by a quarter for media, officials and sponsors visiting the city during the games.

LOCOG has now returned back 120,000 of the total 600,000 nights booked for the sporting event.

The extensive reservation of rooms in premature preparation for the Games has led to a rise in hotel rates across the capital, which is the major reason behind many regular tourists turning their head towards other cities.

The hotel rates have roughly tripled in London during the Olympics, The Independent reports.

Various tour operators last night cautioned that a sudden barrage of vacant rooms would be too late to increase the number of visitors.

An analysis puts forward that up to one million beds will now go unsold over the Olympic period, which would eventually hit hoteliers and others working in the tourism industry.

One of the trade associations has predicted that the income could slouch up to 3.5 billion pounds during July and August. Premium Tours, a leading sightseeing operator based in London, expects business to decline by one-third 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," said Neil Wootton, the managing director.

There is a strong likelihood that London's hotels will be less that eighty percent full and would leave around one million empty beds during the Olympic games.

Mostly in July and August of a regular year, the occupancy stays around 90 percent in London's hotels.