Inbound tourism industry struggles to book hotel rooms during the London Olympics

The European Tour Operators Association (ETOA) has studied tourism effects in past Olympic cities and has identified several issues associated with previous Olympic Games, which have damaged inbound tourism to the host destination.

The market for hotel rooms for the 2012 London Olympics appears to be distorted. ETOA members, who are responsible for tens of thousands of visitors a day in the UK tourism market, are struggling to book hotel rooms in London during the Olympic period and may have to seek alternative destinations for their regular customers. ETOA believes that the expectations of visitor numbers currently circulating within the hotel industry appear to be exaggerated.

Furthermore, if UK businesses are basing their plans on data in some prominent visitor forecasts, there is a very real danger that London could suffer financially as has been experienced by previous host cities.

ETOA will be outlining the effects of this at the meeting on Monday, September 20 at 11:00 am, at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane. It will be releasing its latest Olympics Report, which will examine projected tourism demand in London in the summer of 2012, and it will raise questions about current perceptions circulating in the UK tourism market.

ETOA has already stated:

- The Olympic Games are not a normal tourism event. They are an abnormality that is profoundly disruptive.

- Normal tourist businesses suffer during the Games period: Olympic enthusiasts are not normal tourists. Their presence is determined by their interest in sport. They do not come to attend the theatre or sightsee. They come to attend a sporting event.

- The region around the Games can suffer more than the host city. The host city is often the principal reason for visitors to come to a country, and the principal driving force has been removed.

- Even when the host city is not the principal reason, the impression that everything will be overcrowded and overpriced blights a region.

- These difficulties are routinely exacerbated by exaggerated claims of the benefits that are derived from the games.

ETOA has invited a group of experts to review its findings and discuss what needs to be done in the light of them. Speakers will include:

- Tom Jenkins, executive director, ETOA
- Martine Ainsworth-Wells, marketing director, Visit London
- Jennifer Keen, Total Revenue Solutions


Since its foundation in 1989, ETOA has grown exponentially to include over 500 member organizations, of which more than 150 are tour operators. Collectively, ETOA represents over €5 billion spending on accommodation and travel services annually.

ETOA provides representation at European government level for organizations involved in bringing tourists to Europe. The association promotes greater awareness of the benefits provided by the group travel industry in Europe - particularly increased income and employment. ETOA also influences European tourism policy and legislation.

Areas of specific activity include:

- Promoting Europe as a tourism destination
- Establishing codes of conduct and guidelines for its members
- Establishing commercial opportunities between buyers and sellers
- Working with other travel and tourism associations to raise the industry's profile

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