How many tourists are coming to London for the Olympics?
Travel agents' booking data reveals number of visitors coming to London for the Games
LONDON will see a significant increase in overseas visitors during the Olympic Games, and this, coupled with Britons postponing holiday plans to stay home for the games, suggests a very crowded capital in late July and early August.
The number of tourists arriving in London from abroad in late July and early August is expected to be 13 per cent higher than last summer, with a quarter of visitors coming from North America, research by market research company Forward Data shows.
While there will be more visitors from the US, tourists from other nations seem less keen: numbers from Australia are down 25 per cent on 2011, perhaps their memories of Olympic overcrowding in Sydney 12 years ago putting them off London.
The number of Britons flying abroad in the three weeks before the Opening Ceremony on July 27 is expected to be five per cent down on the same period last year, which contradicts previous suggestions that Londoners will be fleeing the capital before the Olympics. Or if they are they won't do so by plane.
In terms of actual numbers, the Department of Transport has said it expects 500,000 tourists in London between July 17 and August 18, with an additional 70,000 athletes and officials. That means an extra 260,000 visitors to the capital compared to the same period last year.
Anyone wishing to avoid any Olympic-related disruption should certainly leave the capital on July 26, which is the peak arrival day for travellers coming into London. On this day – the day before the Opening Ceremony - over 14,000 people who have booked through a travel agent are expected to arrive at a London airport – an increase of 72 per cent on last year.
It is perhaps worth keeping in mind that Forward Data's figures are based on global air reservations through travel agencies - but not direct bookings, which make up 50 percent of bookings, suggesting actual numbers arriving in the capital for the games could be considerably higher.
There is good news for those hoping to enjoy a less frantic capital in the run up to the Olympics: flight bookings into London are down eight per cent in the three-week period leading up to July 22, suggesting a period of calm in London before the storm.
The 2012 Olympic Games run from July 27 until August 12.