Chinese and Japanese tourists plan to avoid UK during Olympics

Ordinary tourists from China and Japan are extremely reluctant to visit the UK in the period before, during and after the Olympic games, according to major tour operators in those countries.

Global Blue staff in China and Japan contacted many of the largest tour operators, and the answers have been almost universally negative, apart from those organising very high-end, VIP tour groups.

In Japan, some travel companies are not organizing any leisure travel groups at all to London next summer, while others say they are waiting to see how much hotel room prices rise, but that any tours are likely to be for far fewer people than they carried this year, and at the high-end.

On a more positive note, one travel company said that some Japanese tourists might come to London before or after the games to see the architecture and experience the buzz.

In China, one tour operator complained that  “hotel prices will increase extraordinarily, even in the outskirts of London, and flights to the UK will increase sharply (in price) as well.”

Other travel companies said that the visa system, already onerous for Chinese visitors to the UK, was likely to be even more fraught. “The visa issuing quota will be limited and policy will be very restrictive, and the UK government will control a large number of hotel rooms in advance.”

Another Chinese tour operator said: “We are not focusing on UK traditional leisure travel during the Olympic Games due to sky-high prices in hotels. A lot of clients will choose not to visit the UK during the Olympics, they will choose other destinations instead.”

“The UK embassy in China will deliver new restrictions to limit visa quantities because of London security issues. During summer 2011 visa application time was extended from one week to more than one month. Lots of travelers had to postpone their travel & lots of visa applications were rejected by the UK embassy. So people are even more wary about next summer.”

Global Blue’s marketing manager in China commented: “It seems that no operator in China will organize traditional leisure travel group during or even after the Olympics due to high hotel and flight price. But they have received several enquiries from business groups for the period of the Olympic Games.”

The message is clear: London is in danger of pricing the whole of the UK out of the potential boost that the Olympics can bring to the hospitality, retail, and leisure sectors.

SOURCE: Global Blue UK

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posted on February 1, 2012
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