An industry group says bookings ahead of London's 2012 Olympics are down more than 90 per cent, raising concerns about the economic benefit of hosting the Games.
REPORTER: Preparations for London's 2012 Olympics are in full swing - but there are growing concerns over whether enough people will be coming to the party. Chief Executive of the European Tour Operators Association, Tom Jenkins, says the numbers aren't looking good.
TOM JENKINS: "We've just done a survey of our members who bring about 2 million people into London every year, and, according to them, they are looking at a 60 percent decline in tourist numbers during July and August of next year and a 95 percent decline during the Olympic Games themselves."
The association estimates that's a loss to the economy of around 3.5 billion pounds - there are also worries that inflated hotel prices will deter regular tourists from visiting during the Olympics period. British Culture Minister Jeremy Hunt acknowledges the Games come at a tough time.
JEREMY HUNT: "We have just had or we are in the middle of a global economic crisis. This is a very difficult time for the European economy in particular and I don't think it is particularly surprising to see those numbers at this stage."
REPORTER: But London's official promotional organisation doesn't seem worried. Spokeswoman Martine Ainsworth-Wells says it's too early to tell how many people will show up.
MARTINE AINSWORTH-WELLS: "Travel habits have changed dramatically over the past five or six years. Five or six years ago people would be planning three, six months in advance. Now, travel patterns, certainly to London, we have found are a bit different and people will leave maybe just a week's notice, or a couple of week's notice to come to London, so we think we have still got plenty of time to be able to persuade people."
REPORTER: Organisers are hoping that aside from the Olympics, events such as the London Festival and the Queen's Diamond Jubilee will be enough to tempt tourists. Kirsty Basset, Reuters.
• London 2012 - Olympics spark tourist numbers debate (Yahoo!)