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Travel Detective Blog: Olympic Myths and How Travelers Can Benefit

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The Olympics Games are less than 10 days away, but according to the Travel Detective London stands to lose more than it will gain. Find out why in his latest blog.

Every 4 years, the same predictable behavior repeats itself in a different location somewhere around the world, as the Summer Olympic Games commence. For reasons that can only be explained by a combination of ignorance and greed, a large group of investors, private-sector money people, and government officials all drink from the same Kool-Aid glass and presume — against all logic, common sense, and let’s not forget historical precedent — that an event that lasts about 3 weeks will miraculously rescue the economy of their city or country.

Without any sort of due diligence — a simple look at past Olympic venues would almost immediately disabuse them of doing something stupid — they embark on nonstop building frenzy. No, I’m not talking about the construction of an Olympic stadium or other large arena for the games. The building frenzy is all about adding hotel rooms, increasing airline flights, bringing in cruise ships and, of course, substantially raising prices and fares.

But a quick check of cities like Atlanta, Sydney, Athens, and now London reveals that all the massive building and price gouging is misguided.

In Atlanta, they’re still trying to fill all the extra hotel rooms from 1996. And Sydney has the same struggle. And Athens…what can I say? Add the surplus of rooms to the euro crisis…

What about overbuilding and greed in China for the 2008 Olympics? Let’s just say that China had an unlimited budget, and it exceeded it. And even though there was a huge rooms surplus, China always found a way to fill those rooms. So, China is the exception to the Olympics’ greed, build, gouge rule.

Now, London. Consider this:

A business class airfare to London from New York was as high as $9,000 a few weeks ago. Then, British Airways slashed the price to $2,012 round trip. Not just from New York, but from all U.S. gateway cities!

Two weeks before the Olympics 23 percent of London’s hotel rooms were still vacant. Hotels are lowering prices, in order to fill vacancies. And they won’t come close to filling them.

For businesses in London,  this is not good news. For travelers, great news, during — and especially after the Olympics is over.

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