Greedy Games hotels damaging tourism, says chief
Simon Calder’s career in travel started at Gatwick Airport, where he cleaned aircraft for Laker Airways and later worked as a security officer. He became The Independent’s Travel Correspondent in 1994, and is known as “the Man Who Pays His Way” because he does not accept free travel facilities. He writes across the Independent titles, as well as for the Evening Standard.
Tuesday 31 January 2012
The chief executive of VisitBritain has criticised London hotels for holding out for high prices during the Olympics.
Sandie Dawe conceded that bookings have been affected by the spike in room rates across the capital.
In yesterday's Independent, senior figures in inbound tourism warned that the perception that hotel rooms are either unavailable or extremely expensive has severely dented the business prospects for the Games.
Locog, the organising committee for the London 2012 Games, this week handed back 120,000 room-nights that are surplus to its requirements: it reserved one-quarter more than are needed for officials, media and sponsors during the Olympics, which run from 27 July to 12 August.
The over-bidding has been blamed for artificially suppressing supply and raising hoteliers' expectations about the prices they can command.
Ms Dawe told The Independent that hoteliers had to be more realistic. "Some hotels are waiting to get the price that they want. There have been tour operators wanting to contract their rooms – it's like 'who-blinks-first'. It doesn't seem entirely sensible," she said.
Many hotels have trebled their normal rates for the Games, as well as stipulating minimum stays and insisting on payment in advance.
VisitBritain has predicted tourist numbers this year will be the same as 2011. But last year, the Tourism minister, John Penrose, said: "The principal trap is that potential domestic and foreign visitors who aren't avid sporting fans can be put off visiting an entire country for the whole of an Olympic year."
Experience from the two most comparable recent Olympiads, in Sydney (2000) and Athens (2004), suggests a strong displacement effect, with many prospective visitors postponing trips to avoid a city they perceive will be congested and overpriced.
Ms Dawe warned that any slump in tourist numbers in the capital would be felt across the UK: "Because London represents 50 per cent of our inbound market, if London sneezes the rest of Britain can catch a cold."
- 1 School kitchen manager 'fired from Colorado school for giving hungry students free lunches'
- 2 California man brutally beat 82-year-old Sikh grandfather he mistook for 'one of those people'
- 5 Charles Kennedy 'had better judgement drunk than many sober politicians' says Ian Hislop
California man brutally beat 82-year-old Sikh grandfather he mistook for 'one of those people'
Amber Peat: Body found in search for missing 13-year-old who left house after argument with her parents
Alton Towers crash: Four guests seriously injured as Smiler ride carriages collide
Charles Kennedy dead: A guy once asked the Lib Dem leader who his favourite Muppet was and his letter response was wonderful
Gay teenager 'forced to have sex with his own mother' to 'cure' his homosexuality, campaigners in India say
Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination
Migrants in Kos: Photos show real tragedy after Brits abroad complain of 'awkward' holidays
British tourists complain that impoverished boat migrants are making holidays 'awkward' in Kos
Michael Gove determined to scrap the Human Rights Act – even if Scotland retains it
Threat to scrap Human Rights Act could see UK follow Nazi example, warns UN official
Church of England 'one generation away from extinction' after dramatic loss of followers
£50000 - £100000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Partner Manager is required ...
£45000 - £100000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Regional Sales Manager is re...
£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The company provides IT support...
£45000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This manager is for a successfu...