What will the riots mean for London tourism and the Olympic Games?

Over the last few days images of London riots have been shown across the world. As the violence and looting calms down, thoughts are now turning to fears of the city’s tourism suffering severely just a year ahead of the Olympic Games.

Only seven miles from the Olympic Stadium, the rioting broke out in Tottenham where there was wide spread crime, burning buildings and vehicles.

Visit London says it is too early to anticipate the effect the violence will have on visitor numbers but said it was monitoring the situation closely.

Coverage of the riots in the international press, lead Germany to issue travel advice to its citizens, telling them to exercise ‘special caution’ in the wake of the troubles.

Its travel advisory stated: ‘Travellers should also look to the media to keep themselves informed about the latest developments and act in an appropriate fashion locally.’

In India, the editor of the country’s Lonely Planet magazine told his Twitter followers to avoid coming to the UK at all.

Vardhan Kondvikar said: ‘Violence has now spread to Birmingham, Bristol, Manchester and Liverpool.

‘Try not to travel to the UK this week if possible.’

And Latvia went a step further, advising citizens to avoid parts of Britain and ensure they have health and life insurance policies.

Sweden, Denmark and Finland quickly followed its lead by issuing safety advice to stay vigilant and keep an eye on local media and British websites for safety updates.

It has also been highlighted that the violence in the city will now leave London trying to defend the safety of the Games, according to the New York Times.

The respected paper stated: ‘With the Games set to begin in barely 12 months, Britain will have to satisfy Olympic officials that there is no major risk of the Games being disrupted, or ruined, by a replay of the rioting.’

A spokesperson for the 2012 Olympics insisted perspective visitors to the Games should not be deterred,  telling TravelMail: ‘We have already made detailed security reviews with the police and the Home Office and will continue to do so in the run up to the Olympic Games.’

Commuters urged to travel differently during London 2012

Transport Minister Norman Baker today urged commuters and businesses in London to think differently about how they travel during the Olympic Games as he marked a year to go to what is likely to be one of the busiest days on the transport network.

Modelling by Games organisers predict that 3 August 2012 will see an extra three million trips made on top of the 12 million trips on public transport being made on an average London workday. This is due to it being the first day for track and field, and with events at larger capacity venues such as the Olympic Stadium, Horse Guards Parade and the Aquatics Centre the number of spectators are likely to peak.

In order to manage the increased number of people using the Capital’s transport network, the Government wants commuters and Londoners to travel and work differently during the Games. For example commuters who live near work, or travel short distances within central London, are being urged to cycle or walk to work. Those who live further away are being encouraged to try different routes; stagger their journey times to avoid the busiest periods; work remotely; or use video conferencing for meetings.

Norman Baker was speaking at BT where he was shown innovative new ways for businesses and individuals to work remotely from both home and the office. He said:

“The Games will be a once-in-a-generation test for both our transport system and our adaptability. As we edge ever closer to the Olympics, hand-in-hand with new investment must go new solutions.

“I am the first ever transport minister to have official responsibility for alternatives to travel and the Olympics will be a key time to really embrace these ideas. It’s time to oil the creaking bike, dig out the walking boots, work out how to use the video conferencing equipment, and fire up the laptop gathering dust at the back of the cupboard.

“And of course Government has to play its part – at DfT we’ll be cutting our travel footprint by half during the Games, with similar initiatives across Whitehall. But all businesses need to play their part too – there’s plenty of help and advice out there so no excuse why we can’t reduce the amount we travel during the 17 days of the Games.”

In the run up to the Olympics around £6.5bn has been invested in upgrading and extending transport links including the first ever domestic high speed train in Britain, new stations, more tube trains and line extensions. And, as well as the big ticket items, investment has been put into everyday improvements such as innovative customer travel information systems and more user-friendly walking, cycling and river routes.

Demand for accommodation soars as Londoners rent their way to gold during Olympics

Figures released today by HomeAway.co.uk, UK arm of the market leader of the online holiday rentals industry, reveal that London homeowners are benefiting from an unprecedented demand for holiday rentals during the London Games. Demand for rental properties in London for the Olympic summer of 2012 has increased by 131 times as compared to the previous year.

It is expected that home owners looking to cash in on the leap of interest could generate an average of £4,500 by renting their home during the 16 day-long event; an average of £2,000 per week. Londoners thinking about doing this can now find out how much a property similar to theirs could make using HomeAway.co.uk’s newly launched interactive Olympic Rental Map. The Map calculates the average income you could expect to make from your home; taking into account the rental rate increase the Olympics is expected to spark as well as proximity to sporting venues and transport hubs.

The Olympics has the potential to earn millions in rental income for homeowners in the Capital. There are currently over 700 London properties available for rent on www.HomeAway.co.uk and the company is expecting weekly rental rates for those properties to increase by almost 150% on average, echoing a trend for price spikes seen during the 2010 World Cup in Johannesburg.

Tim Boughton, UK General Manager, HomeAway.co.uk said: “We have observed a steady increase in tourists looking for holiday rentals, with particularly high peaks in demand around major global sporting events. These latest figures confirm that London will be no exception. Enquiries for London properties have skyrocketed, particularly those properties in close proximity to the key Olympics sites and with good transport links to London’s top attractions. This, combined with the expected repetition of the 150% increase in rental prices seen at the 2010 World Cup, means savvy Londoners will truly be going for gold next summer.”

Thomas Cook Guarantee Seats at the London 2012 Games

With London 2012 fans now knowing if they’ve been successful in the ticket ballot, Thomas Cook, the travel company that offers holidays worldwide and Official Short Break Provider of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, continues to offer guaranteed seats at the Games.

A spokesperson for Thomas Cook UK & Ireland said, “Last week was our busiest so far – with people unlucky in the ballot visiting our website, calling our hotline and visiting our stores to secure themselves a seat at the Games.

“Although some events are selling out we still have limited availability in some of the most popular sports that have been oversubscribed in the ballot, as we continue to guarantee the public tickets and hotel rooms to this once in a lifetime event that simply aren’t available to purchase separately.”

To date, Thomas Cook’s most popular breaks are for one night with one or two events with the most popular sports being athletics, gymnastics, volleyball, and water polo.

Thomas Cook’s Games Break Plus option, which guarantees some of the best events tickets available, includes stays at London’s top hotels – many of which are not yet available to book separately for July or August 2012 – and a host of exclusive offerings, such as a fully hosted service, meals at quality London restaurants and private coach transfers.

For further information or to book any of the below breaks:www.thomascook2012.com or Going Places store:

Beach Volleyball – £99 per person27th July 20121 night at the 2 star Ibis London HeathrowBeach Volleyball – Cat E tickets Shooting & Hockey – £249 per person29th July 20122 nights at the Budget Travelodge Covent GardenMen’s Shooting Ground Pass – Cat A Tickets & Men’s Hockey Cat D tickets Basketball & Trampoline Final – £279 per person2nd August 20122 nights at the Budget Travelodge SouthwarkMen’s Basketball – Category D tickets, Men’s Gymnastics Trampoline Final – Category E tickets Athletics & Volleyball – £294 per person8th August 20121 night at the 4 star Holiday Inn Heathrow M4Athletics & Men’s Volleyball Quarter Final – Both Cat D Tickets Diving – £299 per person10th August 20121 night at the 4 star Holiday Inn Heathrow M4Men’s 10m Diving Platform Prelims – Cat C Tickets – Code 1135 Water Polo & Beach Volleyball – £359 per person29th July 20122 nights at the 3 star Express by Holiday Inn Park RoyalMen’s Water Polo & Beach Volleyball – Cat C Tickets Athletics & Beach Volleyball – £669 per person2nd August 20122 nights at the 4 star Marriott Marble ArchAthletics – Cat B Tickets, Beach Volleyball Round 16 – Cat B Tickets


Olympics Tickets Disappointment Likely To Lead To Holiday Booking Uplift

April was a terrible sales period for many in the travel industry due to a combination of the recession, Easter and the Royal Wedding. May has been marginally better for sales with encouraging signs that consumers are booking holidays again.

Recent research by Arena Media (http://www.arena-media.co.uk/) (the Havas-owned media planning and buying group) has also identified the Olympic Games ticket ballot as having a significant impact on major purchases such as holidays.

In the survey of over 1,000 UK adults, 30% of those surveyed said that bidding for Olympics tickets had made them hold off spending on major purchases such as holidays. With the vast majority of money already taken from accounts in the first round ballot, the survey also found that few people have got more than 20% of their preferred allocation.

Whilst not good news for those wanting to attend the Olympic Games, it is great news for travel companies as these consumers have now freed up significant sums of money that may be able to spend on booking their summer holiday.

The key headlines from the research show that:

– 63% of those who bid for tickets got none of their allocation, whilst 35% got some of what they wanted with only 2% getting most or all.

– 75% of respondents will wait for 2nd round ballot options before deciding what next to do in pursuit of tickets.

– Most respondents appear to have got only 1-2 events at most. Those spending over GBP1,000 were more likely to get tickets than those spending less, but spending more did not necessarily mean more tickets.

– Half of respondents thought the ballot process was unfair whilst a further 30% thought it was unfair but that it was the best available option.

Chris Armond, Group Business Director at Arena Media, said: “The uncertainty with the ballot process made people hesitant about making major purchases until they found out how much they were committed to. With the vast majority of people being disappointed in the ballot, and more realistic about their chances of getting any tickets, many people will be more willing to book their summer holiday now”