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Published on Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Operators claim UK tourism affected by reserved Olympic rooms

A glut of unwanted hotel rooms reserved by Olympic organisers may have forced a drop in tourists to the UK this summer.

Locog, the organising committee for the London 2012, has revealed it overestimated by a quarter the number of rooms needed and has handed back 120,000 of the total 600,000 nights booked, according to the Independent.

UK tour operators have witnessed a fall in bookings and fear the late flood of unwanted rooms will be too late to boost numbers.

They feel the reservation of rooms led to increased prices across London and put many regular tourists off visiting this year.

Premium Tours, a leading sightseeing operator based in London, expects business to decline by one-third this year.

Managing director Neil Wootton said: "Prices have been so high that tourists are moving elsewhere. Overseas wholesalers who traditionally push London have switched to other cities this year."

By the end of January his company has normally sold one-fifth of summer capacity; it is currently 60% below that target.

VisitBritain rejects predictions of decline saying it expects inbound tourism to be the same as last year, with 30.7 million overseas visitors.

The organistion has asked MPs across the country to nominate an attraction in their constituency that overseas tourists should visit in 2012.

Part of the 'Share Your GREAT Britain'campaign, it aims to get the British public to invite their friends and relatives from around the world to visit the UK this year.

Chief executive of VisitBritain, Sandie Dawe added: "Tourism is the UK's third highest export earner and is worth over £115 billion to the UK economy each year, and it has enormous potential to be one of the fastest growing sectors in the years ahead.

"With one in twelve jobs in the UK either directly or indirectly supported by tourism, the more overseas visitors we can encourage to come and experience all that Britain has to offer will help boost the economy and help create a greater number of jobs."

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