London hotels "pricing themselves out of market"

Wed Jun 6, 2012 12:38pm EDT
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By Peter Myers

LONDON (Reuters) - Bookings at London hotels for the Olympic period are down by around a third on last summer, with travelers being put off by high prices, a British travel agent said on Wednesday, dampening hopes that the Games will help to revive Britain's economy.

Credit ratings agency Moody's said last month that the Olympics would provide only a temporary boost to corporate earnings but said hotels would be a clear beneficiary.

However, past Games have shown evidence of a displacement effect - with regular tourists put off by fears of overcrowding and high prices during an Olympics.

Hotel wholesaler JacTravel is forecasting visitor arrivals to London in July to be more than 35 percent down on 2011, and August to be almost 30 percent down.

JacTravel's chief executive Mario Bodini said that Olympics expectations had been overly optimistic.

"It's a great event; great publicity for the country, but what we need is sensible hotel pricing, and to make sure it goes back to normal very quickly," he told Reuters.

The travel agent said a four-star hotel room in central London is normally priced between 80 pounds and 120 pounds ($120-180) per night during in the peak summer season, but this year the range is 200 pounds to 415 pounds.

JacTravel's customer base includes travel agents, tour operators and online hotel booking engines, and therefore acts a useful barometer for the inbound tourism market.   Continued...