On your marks, get set, go abroad... Britons plan a great Olympic getaway

 

Britain could look empty during next summer's Olympics. Sales at a leading UK travel business shows demand for holidays in late July and August 2012 is running one-quarter higher than at the same stage a year ago. Meanwhile one of the biggest travel firms in the US has cancelled all tours to Britain for a month leading up to, and including, the Games – partly due to concerns over profiteering by hoteliers.

The dates of the Games, 27 July to 12 August, coincide with the school summer holidays across the UK. The usual effect of a big event, from a royal wedding to the World Cup, is to dampen demand for overseas travel. But Bolton-based Travel Counsellors, which has more than 700 travel agents across the UK, reports sales are 23 per cent ahead of last year.

The figure is significant because it represents real sales rather than merely opinion polls or online searches. The prices being paid by holidaymakers have increased by an average of 6 per cent. Demand is especially strong for the US, Turkey and Cyprus.

Steve Byrne, managing director of Travel Counsellors, said: "There has been a lot of hype about how busy travelling will become as tourists from across the globe flock to the UK for the games, so many of the British public want to make sure they book early to avoid this. We are seeing a surge in sales during the Olympics."

A leading upmarket city-break company has seen sales for next summer rise by 40 per cent, year on year, and reports "a disproportionate spike for departures in July and August".

Cruise passengers traditionally book far ahead, and one specialist agency – The Luxury Cruise Company – has had so many enquiries from people keen to avoid the Olympiad that is has created an online "microsite" devoted to the great Games escape. Alaska, the Mediterranean and European river cruises are selling strongly.

Britain's inbound tourist industry has been hoping for a boost in business over the Olympics. In 2009, the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: "When hundreds of thousands of people come, as they will, to London in 2012, it will inevitably be good for this city and for the tourist economy."

But Jennifer Tombaugh, president of America's oldest tour operator, Tauck Travel, said "We will be cutting capacity to the UK by about 20 per cent next summer." This includes a "blackout" from early July until the end of the Games.

The reasons are complex: some clients would expect toreceive tickets for events at the Olympic stadium; road closures will interfere with "normal" tourism; and there are concerns about high room rates and shortages of high-grade accommodation.

Test bookings made yesterday of Hilton properties in the London area showed almost all "unavailable" for key dates during the Olympics. One exception was the Hilton Hotel at Heathrow airport, where a double room is £349 – more than three times the lowest rate this week of £107.

Case study: Renting out

Ruben de Dios, 30, freelance film-maker

"My partner and I are planning to stay with relatives in Spain, and rent out our apartment in Whitechapel, hopefully for around £1,500-£2,000 a week.

"We experienced the Barcelona Olympics in 1992 and realised when it came to London we needed to get away. We initially looked at estate agents, but wanted to avoid the fee so have decided to do it ourselves. We've approached a couple of websites recommended to us by friends, who are helping people to rent out their properties over the Olympics.

"I bought the place five years ago with my partner, and it was given a rent value of £1,000-£1,200 per month six months ago. But other similar properties out there seem to be charging these high prices, so we're going to set our rent at a similar rate. It's a great location, very near the Stratford site."

Arts and Entertainment
Joe Cocker performing on the Stravinski hall stage during the Montreux Jazz Festival, in Montreux, Switzerland in 2002
musicHe 'turned my song into an anthem', says former Beatle
News
Clarke Carlisle
sport
Sport
footballStoke City vs Chelsea match report
Arts and Entertainment
theatreThe US stars who've taken to UK panto, from Hasselhoff to Hall
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Life and Style
Approaching sale shopping in a smart way means that you’ll get the most out of your money
life + styleSales shopping tips and tricks from the experts
News
newsIt was due to be auctioned off for charity
News
Coca-Cola has become one of the largest companies in the world to push staff towards switching off their voicemails, in a move intended to streamline operations and boost productivity
peopleCoca-Cola staff urged to switch it off to boost productivity
Environment
Sir David Attenborough
environment... as well as a plant and a spider
Voices
'That's the legal bit done. Now on to the ceremony!'
voicesThe fight for marriage equality isn't over yet, says Siobhan Fenton
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Investigo: Finance Analyst

    £240 - £275 per day: Investigo: Support the global business through in-depth a...

    Ashdown Group: Data Manager - £Market Rate

    Negotiable: Ashdown Group: Data Manager - MySQL, Shell Scripts, Java, VB Scrip...

    Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst - Bedfordshire/Cambs border - £32k

    £27000 - £32000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst - near S...

    Recruitment Genius: Class 1 HGV Driver

    £23000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This successful group of compan...

    Day In a Page

    Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

    'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

    Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
    Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

    Ed Balls interview

    'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
    He's behind you, dude!

    US stars in UK panto

    From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

    What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

    Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
    Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

    Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

    Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
    Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

    Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
    Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

    Autism-friendly theatre

    Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

    Panto dames: before and after

    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

    Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
    The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

    The man who hunts giants

    A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there