In the hotel sector, while many hotels in prime areas are operating at an average occupancy level of 82 per cent, there is considerable concern about levels of occupancy during the last two weeks of August and during the Paralympics.
The Olympics appear to have disrupted normal booking patterns, leading to doubt about whether hotel occupancy during August this year will match that of a normal August. There is very little demand from corporate and leisure travellers to London and it is apparent from the research that visitors to the Games are not acting like normal tourists; where visiting restaurants, attractions and shopping are typical activities.
Following a meeting with the Mayor’s Office, the BHA has announced the following immediate actions will be taken: • Some Olympic lanes will be released for normal traffic, in line with the conclusion of Olympic activities across the city, such as Wimbledon.
• Transport for London and the National Rail and Highway Agency have had a major change in their messaging to reduce the amount of ‘avoid’ messages.
• BHA is pressing the authorities for removal of the Congestion Charge for the remainder of the Games period.
• To encourage more people into London, it is proposed that parking restrictions at the weekend should be withdrawn in the key boroughs affected – and particularly in the weekend post-Olympics, where sales projections for both restaurants and hotels across the capital are concerning.
• Westminster Council is reviewing the proposal for free weekend on-street parking on the weekends commencing 18 and 25.
• Visit Britain and partners are running a Late Summer Deals campaign throughout the UK and Europe via their visitor app and visitlondon.com
• BHA is pushing London and Partners and the Mayor for a special campaign targeting the Olympic family and Olympic visitors (since they are already in London) to be encouraged to visit London attractions, to dine out and to shop – particularly around central London.
• BHA is encouraging the Mayor of London to participate in a special PR campaign within the next few days to visit a key London attraction, hotel and to dine out in one of our member restaurants in central London.
• BHA is exploring a special campaign to facilitate the visit, and to help organise a similar PR activity for Team GB and other ambassadors for dining out in London.
• BHA has requested that the Mayor of London, Head of Transport for London and perhaps Lord Coe actively communicate – through the press and broadcast media – that London is open for business, with no congestion.
The BHA, London and Partners, the Deputy Mayor, Transport for London, Westminster Council and Visit Britain will re-convene next week to review the latest actions, impact on demand in the immediate term and the next steps to take.