A leading accommodation supplier has forecast a 30% slump in London hotel bookings during the Olympic Games and warned of a slow return of visitors to the capital.
JacTravel, the UK's biggest inbound tour operator, issued the warning after comparing hotel bookings for this summer against the same time last year.
It found July bookings for London more than 35% down on 2011 and bookings for August almost 30% down. At the same time, JacTravel reported bookings to other European cities substantially up.
Chief executive Mario Bodini attributes the downturn to people avoiding London during the Olympics. He described it as "a worry" as London makes up 25% of JacTravel's sales.
Bodini told Travel Weekly: "We are fortunate in that we sell other cities and we expected a bit of a shift and cut our expectations.
"But if we had listened to all the hype we would have holes in our budgets. Obviously the people not coming to London because of the Olympics outnumber those who are coming. Most people who are coming have already booked."
Prices for hotels in London this summer are considerably higher than usual, with a typical four-star hotel room costing £200 to £415 a night compared with a usual rate of £80-£100. By comparison, Bodini said Paris has four-star hotel rooms available for 85-150 euros a night.
Bodini predicted there would be some late deals available nearer to the Olympics, but he warned London pital was unlikely to reach full capacity.
"The message is that realistic pricing gets results," he said. "Hotels which priced their rooms realistically are full this summer."
Bodini said his biggest concern now was how long it would take for bookings to pick up after the Olympics.
"The question is how quickly people are going to return," he said. "We all understand the Olympics is a great event and great publicity for the country, but will people come back in September or in a year's time? My sense is it will not be quick. No-one is expecting a post-Olympics boom."
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