The rooms were reserved in 2005 to provide accomodation for dignatories, media, sponsors and staff working for London 2012. As part of the agreements made at the time with the relevant hotels the understanding was that any unwanted rooms would be returned in time for the hotels to sell them by the time the Games kicked off.
LOCOG has now announced that around a fifth of their reservations are no longer needed and more than 200 hotels would see rooms returned to them to sell before the Olympics. The LOCOG chief executive said the agreement had always been to return the un-wanted rooms.
"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. 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," he said.
However even before the LOCOG announcement the European Tour Operators Association (ETOA) released a survey of their members in November 2011 which showed the majority thought bookings would be down this year with the July and August proving difficult. At the time of the survey the operators said bookings for these months were 95 per cent below where they would usually expect.
The ETOA said that corporate business and Olympics bookings would have to rise significantly to make Summer 2012 better for the industry and fill London's hotel rooms.
Tom Jenkins, executive director of the ETOA, said rising room rates for the period of the Games were making it harder to attract people to the capital and London's hotels.
"We always see a decline in demand for a destination during an Olympic year. But this tendency is becoming absolute as the hotel rates climb in July and August. During the Olympic period itself, there is currently almost no demand from regular tourists," he said.
VisitBritain: Great news
However VisitBritain has welcomed the LOCOG announcement and the chief executive Sandie Dawe said it would help visitors to the city find places to stay.
"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," she said.
The available rooms released as a result of the LOCOG announcement range from those in budget hotels to some in 5 star establishments.