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Olympics Effect: Last-Minute Deals for London Games

Laura Bly, USA Today
Wednesday, 11 Jul 2012 | 11:26 AM ET

The scenario is almost as predictable as doping scandals and security lockdowns. Every four years, Olympics travel prices soar — and, much of the time, disappointing bookings from international fans translate to last-minute deals.

A detailed view of the prototype design of the new golden Olympic torch during its unveiling at St Pancras Station on June 8, 2011 in London, England. 8,000 torchbearers will carry the Olympic Flame around the UK during the 70-day relay, which starts at Land's End in Cornwall on May 19, 2012.
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A detailed view of the prototype design of the new golden Olympic torch during its unveiling at St Pancras Station on June 8, 2011 in London, England. 8,000 torchbearers will carry the Olympic Flame around the UK during the 70-day relay, which starts at Land's End in Cornwall on May 19, 2012.

The London Olympics, which run July 27 to August 12, are no exception. Central London hotel rooms are selling nearly a third below their usual rates, West End theater hits are available at half price, and trans-Atlantic airfares have dipped. Even frequent flier tickets have become easier to find, says George Hobica of Airfarewatchdog.com.

"When the Olympics are on, normal tourists are scared away because cities are perceived as expensive and too difficult to deal with," the European Tours Operators Association's Tom Jenkins told the London Guardian. "This presents consumers with a big opportunity."

Wholesaler JacTravel told the Guardian London hotel bookings are down 35 percent in July and 30 percent in August, with rates during the Games "falling from very inflated levels" and post-Games prices dropping 15 to 20 percent from a year ago.

The Cadogan, in Knightsbridge, is offering two promotions during the Olympics: stay for three nights and pay for two; stay for four nights and pay for three.

British tour operatorThomas Cook is touting discounts of up to 50 percenton packages that combine hotel stays and tickets. Example: $3,578 per person (38 percent off) for a two-night package that includes a four-star South Bank hotel and finals tickets to beach volleyball and other events.

Fly.com's Warren H. Chang, meanwhile, says round-trip tickets from the East Coast to London during the Games are still available for less than $1,000, taxes included, "which isn't too far from typical summer pricing."

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