London Hotels Boom Thanks To Diamond Jubilee

Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations earlier this month helped bring about record figures for London’s hotel industry.

According to figures released by STR Global, a provider of market data to the hotel industry and a company that tracks more than 41,000 daily rooms around London across all segments, London hotels achieved occupancy of 90.5 percent on Saturday June 2, and even the Sunday night, which is traditionally poor for hotels, saw an occupancy figure of 79.3 percent.

Commenting on the figures, Elizabeth Randall, managing director at STR Global, said, ‘The Jubilee weekend has been a fantastic opportunity for London to once again showcase its heritage and pageantry and to be under the spotlight as a destination capable of handling large scale events. Across all hotel segments, performance increased during Saturday and Sunday, as the festivities came to their climax. However due to the public holidays during Monday and Tuesday (4-5 June), the missing business and meeting travellers impacted the weekday performances.’

The hotel trade did not fare as well for the rest of the holiday week, with increased tourist numbers failing to compensate for the loss in the regular business bookings, and occupancy declining by 38.9 percent to 57.6 percent, compared to the previous year.

Based on revenue per available room (REVPAR) the Sunday night of the holiday weekend saw the best growth, with economy class hotels benefiting most with a REVPAR that was up by 54.6 percent.

The good news for London’s hotel industry is set to continue as the 2012 London Olympic and Paralympic games bring a visitor bonanza to the nation’s capital city.

Australia Plans to Extend Marine Parks

Australia has revealed plans to extend its national marine parks to make them the largest marine park network in the world.

Already famed for the quality of its beaches and the diversity of its sea life, the country intends to increase its marine reserves from the current 27 to 60, with the inclusion of 3 million square kilometres, or around a third of its waters. The new reserves will mainly be created between the Perth Canyon in the southwest, and the southern coast’s Kangaroo Island, but the Coral Sea off the Great Barrier Reef in the northeast is a key area to benefit from the protection that its new status will afford.

Commenting on the Coral Sea’s inclusion, Australian environment minister, Tony Burke, said, The Coral Sea marine national park, combined with the Great Barrier Reef area, becomes the largest marine protected area in the world.’

Marine Park status will include a ban on oil and gas exploration and the protection of sea creatures, including the blue whale, green turtle, grey nurse sharks, and dugongs, but it will undoubtedly affect the fishing industry. A 60-day consultation period will include talks with the industry regarding compensation.

But the fishing industry is not the only body to see negatives in the new proposals, on the other side of the coin, environmentalists feel that the provisions fall short of their expectations.

Rachel Siewert, a marine spokeswoman for the Green party, said ‘The boundaries the minister has determined have been very strongly determined on oil and gas prospectivity, and clearly determined by lobbying from the oil and gas sector.’

Skegness Accused of Fighting Dirty in Resorts War

As the UK’s beach resorts gear up for the main summer holidays, Skegness, a traditional seaside town on the Lincolnshire coast, has been accused of using dirty tricks to lure visitors away from its rivals.

The Daily Mail has reported that Skegness has released a series of adverts headed, ‘For sights you’ll want to remember, visit Skegness,’ and showing photographs of walls covered in graffiti that were taken at some of the towns rival UK resorts, Brighton and Blackpool. In a predictable response, the two towns that were targeted have criticised what they see as underhand tactics.

In their defence, the local council has described the adverts as nothing more than friendly rivalry, with James Gilbert, of East Lindsey Council, the body responsible for the posters, telling the Daily Mail, ‘We’re not trying to upset anyone, it’s a bit of friendly rivalry. We want to challenge people’s perceptions and showcase the amazing art, culture, dance, theatre and music that is staged in the town. Obviously, Brighton and Blackpool attract more visitors than Skegness and we are not seeking to insult anyone who lives there or visits there. We are not trying to upset anyone, it’s a bit of friendly rivalry.’

Each year, eight million holidaymakers visit Brighton, while Skegness receives half that number, at around four million. Blackpool comfortably outstrips them both, registering around thirteen million visitors per year.

In the report, Mary Mears, Brighton’s former city council leader, retorted, ‘There’s a big difference, people who visit Skegness maybe would not want to go again, whereas we get lots of repeat customers in Brighton.’

Hotels Prepare for Olympic No-Shows

A study of the impact of the London 2012 Olympic Games on the leisure and tourism industry has revealed that London-based hotels could face a glut of no-shows for bookings made to coincide with the event.

The analysis, which was carried out by holiday lettings company, CLC Leisure, claims to have revealed that considerable numbers of games fans are attempting to offload their pre-booked hotel accommodation. In the main, these are people that bought event ticket and hotel packages with the sole aim of securing the tickets, and without any real need for the inclusive accommodation.

Commenting on his company’s findings, CLC director, Laurence Hicks, said, ‘Desperate to get tickets to events of their choice, people have paid over the odds for a ticket and hotel package even if they live right next to the event venue. In fact many of the hotels in these packages are inconveniently located miles away from the main venues. I know that a secondary market has started for these hotel rooms but it is difficult to transfer them and I expect that there will be many no shows.’

It is unclear how hotels will react to no-shows, and if they would be prepared to leave unclaimed rooms empty at a time when there could be considerable demand from other visitors that genuinely need a room.

Another CLC prediction is that traditional end of summer holiday discounts will be few and far between this year, due to a post-Olympics booking increase for late August and early September.

Giant Jessica Ennis Greets Olympics Fans At Heathrow

British Airways has revealed a giant-sized image of British World Champion heptathlete, Jessica Ennis, on the flight path in to London’s Heathrow Airport, as a welcome to visitors and competitors arriving for the 2012 London Olympic games.

The image, which measures 53 metres by 75 metres, carries the wording, ‘Welcome to our turf,’ which can also be read as a reminder to arriving athletes from other countries that only one team has home advantage.

The image has been created using biodegradable paint and should be visible for the next five weeks, including on July 16, which is the date that British Airways expects most competing athletes to arrive in London. It is located in Thornbury Playing Fields in Hounslow, about three miles from Heathrow, and 600 litres of red, white and blue weatherproof paint was used to create it, taking two days for painters to complete the artwork on grass.

Jessica Ennis welcomed her part in the endeavour, saying, ‘I’m thrilled to be the first face that people will see arriving into the UK for the London 2012 Games. I hope it brings excitement to homecoming Brits, and reminds international athletes that we’re ready and prepared! We have the most dedicated fans in the world, who will get behind us every step of the way to give us a home advantage.’

British Airways estimates that it will fly 50,000 ex-pats back to the UK this summer. The airline has also launched a ‘Flying Britain Home’ campaign offering a quarter of a million pounds worth of flights to Brits that live abroad to fly back for the Games. A further 50 flights were available to Team GB and ParalympicsGB athletes to bring home their friends and family for an extra boost during the Games.