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Paris 2024 Olympics: Hotels brace for low occupancy as tourists stay away

Simon Calder’s Travel

British visitors to this summer’s Olympic Games in Paris look set to cash in on bargain hotel rates.

The 33rd modern Olympiad opens in the French capital on 26 July 2024, closing on 11 August. While accommodation rates have surged ahead of the Games, The Independent has learnt that officials expect around one in three hotel rooms in the city to be empty during the Olympics.

In an exclusive interview, tourism boss Corinne Menegaux said: “We expect an occupation rate between 60 and 70 per cent.”

According to the French official statistics agency, Insee, Paris hotels averaged 90.7 per cent occupancy in July 2023.

In a typical 300-room hotel, that represents 28 rooms being empty on the average night. But during the 2024 Olympics, there could be as many as 120 unsold rooms.

Ms Menegaux, director-general of Paris je t’aime – the capital’s tourist office – said most visitors during the Games will be “local and national”.

More than 12 million people live in the Ile de France, comprising the capital and the region around it. In addition, day trips from cities such as Lyon, Strasbourg and Bordeaux are feasible with high-speed trains taking around two hours each way – reducing demand for hotels in Paris.

Ms Menegaux said of hotel rates: “During the two weeks of the Olympics, yes, prices have increased a little – but I would say, probably in a reasonable way. That wasn’t [the case] at the beginning. But now it’s affordable.”

She recommended visiting the city during the Games, saying: “It’s always a magic opportunity to be part of it, so being there is key.”

Christophe Decloux, director-general for tourism in the Paris Region – comprising the Ile de France – said: “We have 160,000 rooms in the Paris Region – which is more than London had in 2012. So we have what it takes to accommodate everybody.

“What we compare to is London in 2012 – where the the hotels in London were very expensive at the beginning and they had to bring down the prices,”

He said occupancy bounced back “as soon as the prices met the actual demand of the customer”.

As research by The Independent into previous Olympiads has shown, host cities tend to experience a tourism vacuum during the Games.

Ahead of the London event in 2012, the-then mayor, Boris Johnson warned of “a million extra visitors a day” and said: “Our roads and…

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