By Duncan Mackay

grange hotel_tower_bridge_30-01-12January 29 - London 2012 has returned 20 per cent of the hotel rooms it had booked for the Olympics and Paralympics to the market, a decision which has today been hailed as an opportunity to help the tourist industry benefit from the Games.

The announcement means that more than 120,000 room nights at over 200 hotels ranging from five star to budget accommodation will now be available to visitors to London this summer.

As part of the successful bid to stage the London 2012 Games, agreements were struck with hotels in 2005 to provide more than 40,000 hotel rooms, representing more than 600,000 room nights. 

These rooms are to provide accommodation for the world's media, international sport federations, the International Olympic Committee, people working at the Games and sponsors. 

"The hotel industry in London got behind the bid to stage the Games in the most extraordinary way and that support helped us across the line," said Paul Deighton, the chief executive of London 2012.

"We always promised that we would not hold on to hotel rooms we didn't need but return them to the individual hotels at the beginning of 2012.

"We are now doing this and I hope that this enables the hotels to continue with their planning for this summer as we all work together to stage a spectacular Games."

The announcement is certain to spark a scramble worldwide for people to try to secure accommodation during London 2012.

Sandie Dawe_on_Union_flag_chair"We welcome today's announcement by LOCOG (London Organising Committee for the Olympic and Paralympic Games) that they will be releasing around 20 per cent of the hotel rooms that they have held in advance of the Games taking place," said Sandie Dawe (pictured), the chief executive of VisitBritain.

"The fact that such a wide spread of rooms in London will now be made available to the public is great news for overseas visitors wishing to come to the UK to experience the Olympics and all the other wonderful festivities that are taking place over the summer.

"LOCOG's commitment to free up any surplus rooms shows that it recognises the vital role that the tourism industry has to the overall success of the Games.

"This is an important and timely boost for the sector as it looks to enhance the image of the UK as a destination of choice, showcasing the very best of what Britain has to offer overseas visitors and helping create a tourism legacy for years to come."

Hotels are expected to start marketing their availability immediately.

"We were only too happy to support London's bid for the Games and we are proud to continue that support," said Barry Wishart from the Grange Hotel group, which has 15 properties across the capital.  

"Now LOCOG has confirmed these details, we are able to confirm our plans for this summer and help our customers be part of this extraordinary event."

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