London deputy Mayor issues ‘rip-off’ Olympics warning

London deputy Mayor issues ‘rip-off’ Olympics warning

London’s image could suffer from hosting the Olympics if visitors leave believing the city is poor value for money, the London mayor’s office has warned.

Deputy Mayor of London Kit Malthouse told the Hospitality and Tourism Summit: “The last thing we need is [US reporter] Katie Couric on TV remarking how expensive the city is.”

Malthouse told the summit in London, organised by the British Hospitality Association (BHA): “We are conscious some cities have made a mess of it.

“There have been notable problems with the Games. Atlanta never really recovered. We are determined to get it right.”

Atlanta hosted the 1996 Olympic Games which suffered a series of problems.

The deputy-mayor identified over-pricing as among the biggest concerns. He said: “The Conservative Party used to go every year to Brighton.

“It stopped going because every time we went they ramped up the price of a gin and tonic and people felt ripped off.”

Malthouse said: “London is an expensive place to live. The value proposition is critical. London needs to be somewhere people can come to regularly.”

He spoke as leading inbound tour operator JacTravel warned of inflated prices and empty hotel rooms in the capital during July and August. JacTravel reported bookings 30% down year on year.

Malthouse acknowledged there could be a post-Games problem. He said: “We are focused on the post-Games hangover. In mid-August we might see a sudden drop off [in visitors], with people not coming to London because they think it will be difficult and expensive. We are trying to avoid that.”

He said the recent furore over border queues at Heathrow airport had not helped. “The stories about Heathrow are a massive deterrent,” he said.

However, he insisted London could cope with the Olympics itself, saying: “London has double the number of hotel rooms required.”


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