London tourism rates plunge during Olympics

 LONDON (AFP) - The London 2012 Olympics appears to be deterring tourists from the capital's centre after warnings of travel chaos and overpriced hotel rooms, according to key industry figures.

Many businesses complain they are being sidelined as tourists make a beeline for the Olympic Games and avoid the capital's other attractions and shopping destinations, while non-sports fans opt to stay at home or delay their trips.

In the run-up to the Olympics, commuters and tourists alike were warned to avoid central London, with millions of athletes, support staff, media and spectators descending on the capital for the greatest show on earth.

The Games have long been heralded as a key boost to the recession-hit British economy. But tourist numbers have fallen "dramatically" since the Games began, according to industry body the European Tour Operators Association (ETOA).


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