Business as usual or chaos? Nobody seems to have mentioned that ‘business as usual’ in London is predicated on chaos. A finely tuned state of perpetual disaster to be averted at the last moment. It has been this way forever and the 2012 Olympics will be the latest beneficiary of London’s great talent for bodging, improvisation and unexpected moments of transcendence. I expect Londoners to spend the next six months complaining about collapsing transport infrastructure, high-handed IOC officialdom, a downturn in trade for much of the capital, and the fact that none of us got tickets.
Reasons to be Cheerful: Afterwards, they will remember the buzz, the amazing events that popped up all over the city during 2012, and the Dunkirk Spirit that accompanied each successive cock-up. I also predict a shortage of barbecue charcoal as City traders working from home finally discover that men are able to multitask, especially with a nice cold Chablis.
Tourists will avoid London during 2012: The European Tour Operators Association (ETOA) did a study of hotel accommodation at previous Olympic Games and came up with some worrying conclusions: From July 27th to 12th August, London is going to be very busy, but not as busy as predicted. The rest of the year will be thin at best while Olympic visitors, the IOC, press and media flood into the capital a few days before the start, many pack their bags before the closing ceremony.
“The Olympic Games is a big event, but not overwhelmingly so. According to our estimates, every Games destination sold less than an average of 20,000 rooms per night to international guests. But as the destination thinks it is going to be full, so do potential tourists. During an Olympics the normal motivation they have to come is modified by a fear of crowds, disruption and high prices. The result of this combined misperception can be a catastrophic mix of high expectation and low demand.” (ETOA)
Reasons to be Cheerful: Visitors with strong nerves and haggling skills will be able to find discounts as hotels realise their non-Olympic voids need filling. For Londoners wishing to flee the Capital, the displacement effect predicts that Paris may have last-minute bargains as long-haul tourists give the whole of Western Europe a thumbs-down during Summer 2012. Visitors looking for private rentals have started to discover that although some properties have been laughably overpriced, the increasing number of owners booking flights to IOC-free zones for July and August means that a degree of pragmatism has begun to prevail. This will begin when hotels and tour operators start releasing increasingly large waves of unsold rooms, tickets and packages.
London 2012 Festival: The Ancient Greek Olympic Games were not just about individual athletic prowess, they were an opportunity for competing states to play politics and impress the neighbours. The showing-off included religious ceremonies, sacrifices, poetry, sculpture – stuff with wow-factor. Confusingly, the London 2012 Festival is not the Cultural Olympiad, it’s just the part which annexed all the best bits; as Ruth Mackenzie, director of the Cultural Olympiad, explains, “Ideas which truly could be described as Once In A Lifetime opportunities, as amazing as the Games themselves”.
Reasons to be Cheerful: Cashflow-challenged Londoners without Provençal escape routes will be looking for something else to do. With a surfeit of cultural happenings and fewer tourists to compete with, this Summer should be one long arty party (weather permitting). As if that wasn’t enough, it’s also the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee so non-trendy types have something to celebrate.
That’s got to be more than 3 good reasons to visit London in 2012; do you need any more?