Tourism bosses fear unwanted Olympic legacy: empty rooms
Hotels slash prices to as little as £10 a night in desperate attempt to stay full after Games finish
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 19 June 2012
An "Olympic hangover" could see London turn into a ghost town bereft of tourists immediately after the Games.
The Olympics begin next month and conclude with the closing ceremonies on 12 August. Heathrow airport predicts that the following day will be the busiest in its history for outbound passengers. The mass exodus is expected to be so swift that hotels adjacent to the Olympic Stadium have been offering rooms at the end of that week for less than £10 per person per night.
Senior figures in tourism have told The Independent of fears that "normal" visitors will stay away from London all summer. Nick Varney, chief executive of Britain's leading attractions operator, Merlin, said: "The travel trade who normally bring tourist groups have basically switched away from London. Hotel rooms have gone up in price, and they've thought, 'We don't even want to deal with being in London through that summer period'. So immediately, there's a trade hit."
Hotel rates in the aftermath of the Olympics have slumped. The new Premier Inn beside the Olympic Park in Stratford is charging £199 a room per night during the Olympics. But by Friday 17 August the hotel is cutting prices by over 80 per cent to just £39 – the rate at which The Independent secured a booking for a family of four.
Stratford is not a recognised tourist area, so a steep decline in demand once the Games are over is to be expected. But hotels in the tourist heartland of the capital are also cutting rates dramatically. The Travelodge in Covent Garden is selling twin rooms on Friday 17 August for under £43 – less than the cost of a modest dinner in the area and a quarter of the price charged a week earlier.
The pattern is repeated at the top end of the market. The Trafalgar Hilton has availability on only a few nights during the Games, when its lowest room rate is £630. From the night of 13 August onwards, this falls by almost £500 for guests who book ahead.
The Olympics rate for the Claude Monet one-bedroom suite at the Savoy is £6,900. This includes "the river views that inspired Monet to paint" as well as the services of a butler. But by waiting a few days prospective guests can save more than £4,000.
Christopher Rodrigues, chairman of VisitBritain, said: "The benchmark standard for major events is that they cause a drop in inbound tourism in the year in which they happen." But he added: "So far we're doing better than flat".
London's deputy mayor, Kit Malthouse, said: "After the Games, there will be an exaggerated effect of people staying away because they're uncertain about what state the city is in."
Meanwhile, the Paralympics – which run from 29 August to 9 September – are pushing up rates at the Premier Inn adjacent to the stadium to £189.
Cheap rooms: How to find a bargain
Visitors to London will have an opportunity to snap up some of the 150,000 beds available in the capital at bargain rates after the Olympics are over.
As with low-cost airlines, avoid the busy times and you can pay a fraction of peak rates. The difference this year is that mid-August – when the capital is normally thronged with visitors – is low season.
The hotels' own websites are usually the best places to buy. Many hotel chains guarantee that the room rates offered direct will not be undercut. But further searching online can also turn up better deals.
Gold rush: the best post-games deals
The Savoy, Claude Monet Suite
£6,900 during Games. £2,634 after Games (-62%)
Premier Inn, Stratford
£199 during Games. £39 after Games (-80%)
£229 during Games. £95 after Games (-58%)
£630 during Games. £131 after Games (-79%)
St Pancras Renaissance
£678 during Games. £260 after Games (-62%)
All rates are the lowest available researched online direct with hotels' booking sites on the afternoon of 18 June 2012. The Olympics rate is for 10 August, or for the closest date with availability. The post-Olympics rate is for 17/18 August.
The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations
- 1 Frank Lampard's face drops when Holly Willoughby introduces him as a 'Man City legend'
- 2 Migrant crisis: Greek soldier saved 20 people singlehandedly off Rhodes beach
- 3 UK weather: Britain braced for snow as arctic air mass moves in
- 5 Stephen Hawking endorses Labour in the General Election
Business class to New York at economical prices - but will it fly?
French air-traffic controllers strike Q&A: When is the strike and which travellers will be affected?
A380 celebrates first decade in flight - but how long will the Superjumbo's time in the sky last?
The most powerful passports in the world
French air-traffic strike: Planned industrial action called off
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
The sickening truth about food banks that the Tories don't want you to know
Migrant boat disaster: Ukip candidate mocks victims in sickening Twitter post
Nigel Farage wants the BBC to stop making programmes like Doctor Who, Strictly Come Dancing, and Top Gear
Global warming: Scientists say temperatures could rise by 6C by 2100 and call for action ahead of UN meeting in Paris
Aaron and Melissa Klein: Oregon anti-gay bakers ordered to pay $135,000 after refusing to make cake for same-sex wedding
£15310 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity has arisen for a...
£24000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Situated in the heart of Bradfo...
£18750 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Hotel in Chadderton is a popular ch...
£Competitive (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Marketing and Co...