London’s parks could be turned into temporary campsites offering affordable accommodation for the 2012 Olympics with hotel prices expected to soar.
Minister for creative industries and tourism Shaun Woodward is concerned people on low incomes who do not live within easy commuting distance of the capital will not be able to afford vastly inflated London hotel prices during the Olympics.
Determined to make sure the whole country is able to experience the London 2012 atmosphere, he is proposing the capital’s parks are turned into temporary accommodation shelters made up of caravans and tents.
The MP for St Helens South, which has four of the poorest wards in the country, encouraged the tourism industry not to focus on catering for high-spending overseas visitors at the expense of more modest spending British nationals.
“The hotel prices [during the 2012 Games] would be higher than most of my constituents could afford,” he told delegates at the Travel Society Prospects 2007 event in London last week. “There are lots of parks in London where high-standard accommodation sites can be offered that are not expensive.”
Woodward added the world needs to see the whole country enjoying the 2012 Games, which he estimated would have a global audience of 4 billion, if it’s to be a success and create a tourism legacy greater than that of recent host cities Sydney and Athens.
“The Olympics is a great opportunity. The UK is competing in a tourism race and it’s one that we can win,” he added. “We have to make sure everybody is able to come and watch the Olympics.”
Woodward did not reveal how well the idea has been received in Government.
However, the Department of Culture, Media and Sport – which is responsible for tourism – does oversee London’s parks via the Royal Parks Agency.
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