London hotel demand up as Olympic effect endures

The positive impression that London gained as a result of last years successful Olympic and Paralympic games is still enduring, with the capital city’s hotels reporting increased demand.

Hotels.com, a hotel booking service with online and telephone operations, has reported that compared to last year, searches on its website for London-based hotels are up by 53 percent for next week’s half-term holiday, despite the 2012 figure being positively influenced by the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations. Visitors to London are reaping a two-fold benefit of enjoying hotel facilities that were either new or renovated for last year’s events, and competitive room prices due to more rooms having come onto the market and a drop in corporate demand.

In its Hotel Price Index, Hotels.com noted that room prices in London fell by 3 percent last year compared with 2011, to an average of GBP126 per night.

The company’s figures appear to indicate that London’s attraction to overseas visitors, 15.5 million of whom descended on the capital last year, is being replicated by British travellers who are extending their stays in London from cheaper day trips to overnight and weekend visits.

Speaking on behalf of Hotels.com, Alison Couper said, ‘London’s year in the spotlight has undoubtedly impacted how the city is viewed worldwide. With a legacy of new and improved hotels and tourist attractions, London is front-of-mind for many people planning a trip away this year. Offering great value for money, London hoteliers are hoping the city could see visitor numbers rise, providing a welcome boost to the UK’s economy.’

London’s visitor season will be given an early boost this weekend when supporters from two of Germany’s major football clubs, Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund, arrive in the city en mass for tomorrows Champions League final at Wembley Stadium. 150,000 German fans are expected to arrive in the city, despite the stadium only having a capacity of 90,000. Hotels.com has reported that German searches for London hotels have shot up by 296 percent.

Olympics partly to blame for Virgin Atlantic’s deepening losses

Virgin Atlantic, a UK-based airline, has partly blamed the 2012 London Olympic Games for its latest reported losses.

Sir Richard Branson’s company has reported a loss of £93 million for the last financial year, adding to the £80 million deficit that it reported for the previous year. The airline’s new chief executive, Craig Kreeger, said that a dent in business travel that was partly due to the effect of the Olympic games had impacted on the figures, although he was optimistic for the future, forecasting a return to profitability for the company within two years.

Kreeger said, ‘Last year saw a double dip recession, a continued weak macro economy, and an Olympic Games which, although a fantastic event, severely dented demand for business travel. Despite these challenging circumstances, the enduring strength of the Virgin Atlantic brand has not wavered – we have increased our revenues, our load factors, and carried many more passengers than the previous year.

I am confident we have concrete plans in place to take Virgin Atlantic forward and return the business to profitability within a two-year time frame. The commitment of our staff and loyal customer base is not to be overlooked and as a brand with high advocacy we will continue to innovate and inspire in true Virgin spirit.’

The group’s revenue did see an increase of 5 percent, to £2.87 billion, and it registered a 3.5 percent increase in passenger numbers to 5.5 million.

Virgin Atlantic is implementing a number of measures to reverse its fortunes, including the recent launch of new domestic airline, Little Red, and cuts to its administrative operations.

Sports tourism a major boost to Britain’s economy

Sports tourism has emerged as a major contributor to Britain’s economy after it was revealed that 900,000 football fans visited the UK last year.

According to figures released by VisitBritain, the British tourism authority, visiting football fans spent a total of £706m, or £785 each during their trips. Football tourists are particularly lucrative to the economy as their average spend is £200 more than non-sporting visitors from overseas.

According to 40 percent of foreign fans surveyed, going to a game was the main reason for their visit, and while the overall visitor figure will have been boosted by Wembley Stadium hosting the 2011 Champions League Final, it is the UK Premier Leagues domestic stadiums that are proving the main attraction. The top ten grounds for attracting overseas fans were: Old Trafford, Anfield, the Emirates Stadium, Stamford Bridge, White Hart Lane, Wembley, Goodison Park, the Etihad Stadium, Upton Park and Villa Park.

The research was carried out by the Office of National statistics International Passenger Survey, and the results prompted VisitBritain to comment that football is a ‘highly effective tool’ for bringing visitors to Britain at some of the quieter times of the year.

Ireland provided the biggest influx of football tourists, with 174,000 visiting the UK to watch a match, followed by 80,000 from Norway, 61,000 from the United States, 54,000 from Spain and 48,000 from Germany.

Football is not the only sport to make an impression on Britain’s visitor figures. Major events like the Wimbledon tennis tournament, international cricket matches, major horseracing events and international golf tournaments all contributed to the 1.3 million sports tourists that spent a total of GBP1.1bn during 2011.

In its Foresight study on sporting travel, VisitBritain commented, ‘This is just the start of an extraordinary period for Britain hosting the world’s elite sportsmen and sportswomen, and of course those keen to come and support their efforts.

The Rugby League World Cup in 2013, the Glasgow Commonwealth Games and Ryder Cup in 2014, the IRB Rugby World Cup in 2015, the World Athletics Championship in 2017 and the ICC Cricket World Cup in 2019 are all set to ensure that while the Olympic movement will be turning its attention to Brazil for the next summer Olympic and Paralympic Games, Britain will remain centre stage when it comes to sport.’

Warm British Welcome Likely to Increase Tourism in UK

Marketing Great Britain as a premier tourist destination for the world traveller will be all the easier for the warm welcome that the nation extends to its incoming visitors, which appears to be the message from visitors to the 2012 London Olympic Games.

VisitBritain, the official tourism website for Great Britain, has released the results of a recent survey of outbound tourists from the 2012 Olympic Games in London. The survey appears to confirm that the nation has improved its image as a travel destination, as around 80 percent of the people surveyed are likely to recommend the country to their friends, having been made to feel ‘very welcome’.

The survey, conducted by the Civil Aviation Authority, with around 9,000 departing overseas visitors, reveals that there has been a noticeable improvement in visitors feeling welcome in Great Britain, as well as an increased likelihood of them recommending Britain to others.

Patricia Yates, the director of strategy and communications at VisitBritain, said, ‘Enhancing the world’s perceptions of a British welcome will help us attract more visitors in the years ahead. The London 2012 Games were a great advertisement for Britain – with the volunteers and the warmth of the welcome being picked up around the world.

We want to make sure that we continue to be seen as a welcoming destination for our visitors so that they continue to want to come back and recommend us to their friends and family.’

Around 40 percent of the respondents are ‘extremely likely’ to recommend visits to Britain for a holiday to friends and family, compared to 5 percent of respondents in 2010.

London Hotel Prices May Decrease After 2012 Olympics

In the aftermath of the 2012 Olympic Games, hotel prices in London are on a downward slide, according to Trivago, a hotel price comparison website.

Average room rates for London hotels are expected to drop by 35 percent now that the Olympic games have finished, from an average of GBP201 per night between July 27 and August 12, 2012, to an average of just GBP130 during the following week, which is even lower than the same period last year.

Meanwhile, hotel prices in Edinburgh are set to remain high, due to the ongoing Edinburgh Fringe Festival, with rooms averaging GBP177 per night, which is 46 percent more than the same period last year. While hotel prices in Edinburgh are expected to remain high, prices of accommodation in other key cities in the UK and Ireland have increased in comparison with August 2011, mirroring the general trend of rising hotel prices.

Outside of the UK, rises in average hotel prices have been seen in the last month in the European destinations of Stockholm, Oslo and Copenhagen. While average hotel accommodation in Stockholm costs GBP141, an increase of 19 percent from last month, a night in Oslo will cost around GBP133, up by 19 percent, and the average room rate in Copenhagen is around GBP131, representing a 10 percent increase.

In other parts of Europe, hotel prices have decreased in August 2012, in comparison to July 2012. Average room rate in Rome are around GBP88, a decrease of 14 percent from last month, while a night in Istanbul costs GBP93, a decrease of 16 percent from last month.

 

London Heathrow Airport Reports July 2012 Traffic Decrease

London Heathrow Airport has reported a fall in its July 2012 passenger traffic, despite the 2012 Olympic Games opening during the month.

The airport has reported that the fall in passenger traffic is due to ‘UK passengers staying at home, as well as non-Olympic visitors from overseas choosing to defer their journeys’, a situation that was not compensated for by the arrival of Olympic athletes, officials and international visitors to London for the sporting event.

BAA Ltd, owner and operator of six British airports including London Heathrow, has announced that the airport, which has been the official airport for the 2012 Olympic Games, has announced a passenger traffic figure of 6.6 million for July 2012, a drop of 4.4 percent compared to the same month last year.

The airport’s recently completed monthly survey, which asked passengers to rate their experience at the airport on a scale of 1 to 5, and where 5 stood for excellent service, resulted in arrivals being rated at 4.3, and departures at 4.22, setting a new record for the month of July.

BAA chief executive officer, Colin Matthews, said, ‘We are proud to have played our part in giving the very best welcome to London 2012 to athletes and visitors alike. Seven years of hard work and planning, the warmth and enthusiasm of more than a thousand volunteers and additional Border Force staff produced our strongest ever passenger satisfaction scores.’

Domestic traffic at the airport has increased by 1.2 percent in July 2012, compared with the same period last year, while international traffic has fallen by 6.6 percent for European destinations, and 6.35 percent for other routes, except North Atlantic destinations, when compared to July 2011.

 

Brits delay holidays until after Olympics

A survey has revealed that many British holidaymakers managed to hold off booking a holiday until the London 2012 Olympic Games closing ceremony.

The study, conducted by Amadeus and ForwardKeys has revealed that departures to any destination from London before the opening ceremony were 5% lower than the recorded figure in 2011.

These findings highlight that holidaymakers have made a conscious decision to stay at home to support the many athletes involved with team GB, whilst showing their patriotic spirit towards Britain.

After coming third in the medal table with 29 gold medals, 17 silver and 16 bronze, people have clearly been engrossed in the Games, watching our professional athletes perform for Great Britain.

As London was expected to be even busier than usual, it was predicted that many people would escape overseas or visit the countryside for peace and quiet. But it appears that the British spectators have revelled in the sporting spirit and have cheered team GB along the way.

As summer is usually the most popular time to book a holiday, it comes as a surprise that many holidaymakers have booked in the three weeks after London 2012. Figures have revealed that bookings figures are up 10% during these three weeks in comparison to last year, highlighting that people are looking to treat themselves to a break after the Games.

The figures, based on international air reservations has also revealed that 13% of tourists will be planning a trip to areas of London after the Olympics has subsided. However, many people will also be looking to escape the hustle and bustle by visiting the surrounding countryside locations.

This also brings positive news to UK tourism and the accommodation industry as many more people have chosen to take a staycation this year, to holiday near to home and be close to the games.

Independent Cottages has a fantastic range of self-catering holiday cottages that are perfect for those in need of a break after the Olympic Games.

London Hotels Prices Almost Double During 2012 Olympics

London hotels have reported an increase in room rates of around 87 percent during the 2012 Olympic games, for the period between July 27 and August 5.

STR Global, a company that provides research findings for the hotel industry, has reported that hotels across London have charged an average daily rate (ADR) of GBP216.42 from July 27 to August 5, 2012. This period has also seen a rise in occupancy of 3.2 percent, to 87.7 percent when compared to the same period last year.

Elizabeth Randall Winkle, the managing director of STR Global, said, ‘Hotels across London continue to report increasing occupancy levels and average room rates during the Olympic period when compared to last year.

We are also seeing improvement from weaker occupancy performances in June and early July so it is good to see that performance has been picking up during the Olympics.

However, Heathrow and Gatwick, in the west and south of London and therefore less convenient for Olympic venues, have reported occupancy declines for the Olympic period.’

While occupancy at central London hotels has seen a maximum of 87 percent, the hotels around London Heathrow Airport have reported occupancy of 79.6 percent for the period, for an ADR of GBP85.05, and those around Gatwick have registered an occupancy of 75.9 percent for the period, with an ADR of GBP66.04.

The Olympic football tournament has been held in six venues, London, Cardiff, Coventry, Glasgow, Manchester and Newcastle. Hotels in Cardiff and Coventry have reported around 90 percent occupancy for the nights when matches were played.

 

A30 Egham Bypass Games Lanes to Remain Open Until Paralympic Games

The London Olympic Games Organising Committee (LOCOG), the agency that is responsible for all Olympic preparations in London, has reported that the Games Lanes on the A30 Egham Bypass in Surrey will be open for traffic during the period between the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games.

Earlier it was reported that A30 Egham Bypass Games Lanes would remain in force until the end of the Paralympic Games on September 6, 2012.

The Games Lanes have been working efficiently, without any incidents of traffic queues except in the mornings during rush hour, to help athletes and officials move easily between venues and their accommodation at Royal Holloway, University of London.

The Games Lanes will be operational again during the Paralympic Games, from August 27, 2012, to facilitate the easy movement of athletes and officials from Eton Dorney for the Paralympic Rowing training and competition events.

Hugh Sumner, the director of transport for the Olympic Delivery Authority, said, ‘After evaluating the operation of the A30 Egham Bypass Games Lanes and background traffic to date, we have decided to open up the Lanes to all traffic during the period between the Games.

This will reduce the impact of the Olympic Route Network for everyday road users during this time. We were concerned that temporarily suspending the Games Lanes in this period would create confusion. However, now that we have seen that it has been working better than we expected, we believe we can safely go ahead with this move and help drivers at the same time.’

 

Virgin Holidays Offers Discounts to UK Emergency Services and Ministry of Defence Employees

Virgin Holidays, a UK-based holiday company and part of the Virgin Group, is offering discounts to UK Emergency Services and Ministry of Defence employees as a thank you for their part in ensuring a smooth Olympic Games 2012, which concluded in London last night.

The company acknowledged the selfless work put in by the Police, NHS, Fire & Rescue, Coastguard, Mountain Rescue and the Ministry of Defence during the period, and is offering them a 10 percent discount on all Virgin Holidays or Virgin Holidays Cruise bookings made by today.

The discount is on offer on all holidays departing between September 1, 2012, and February 28 2013; and on all Virgin Holidays Cruises priced more than GBP1,000 per person.

Earlier Virgin Atlantic, an airline subsidiary of UK-based Virgin Group and a sister company of Virgin Holidays, reported a GBP80.2 million loss for its most recent financial year, which ended February 2012. This is in sharp comparison with an operating profit of GBP18.5 million reported during the earlier year.

The airline, has, however, reported an increase in airline revenue and passenger numbers from March 2012 to the end of May 2012, compared to the same period in 2011.

Virgin Atlantic chief executive officer, Steve Ridgway, said, ‘In an incredibly challenging market, we have managed to grow top-line revenues and fly more customers than last year.

However, with the prevailing uncertainty in the economy, sky-high fuel prices and a 25 per cent hike in our air passenger duty fees, converting this sales growth into profit has not been possible.

Despite this backdrop there can be no let up so to keep Virgin Atlantic at the forefront of airline customer innovation we have announced our biggest ever service and cabin investment programme.’