Sochi?s hotel scarcity deters late travel bookings from U.S.
Sochi may attract the fewest American visitors to a Winter Olympics in 20 years amid terrorism concerns, a lack of luxury hotel rooms and difficulties procuring visas, according to U.S. tour operators.
Russia?s plan to spend $50 billion on hotels and other infrastructure to convert a small city on the Black Sea into a year-round resort hasn?t resulted in enough high-end hotels, and the existing facilities have raised prices by 121 percent for the event, according to trivago.co.uk, a U.K. website.
Russia?s Olympic organizing committee said yesterday that 30 percent of tickets remained unsold three weeks before the Feb. 7 opening ceremony. The Vancouver Games in 2010 wound up selling 97 percent of its seats. With few international flights directly into the Sochi airport, and most Westerners requiring visas, a last-minute rush is unlikely, tour operators say.
?There was a little hesitancy to start and now with everything going on, I don?t expect that we?re going to have a lot of people still coming to us,? said Robert Tuchman, president of New York-based Goviva, a sports and entertainment travel company. ?This is definitely, from a travel perspective, a low point in terms of a Winter Olympics that I?ve seen in the 20-plus years I?ve been doing it.?
The U.S. State Department on Jan. 10 issued a travel alert for Russia after two suicide bombings in the city of Volgograd late last year killed more than 30 people. The warning urged Americans to ?remain vigilant and exercise good judgment and discretion when using any form of public transportation.?
Sochi has planned to sell 1.1 million tickets, according to an International Olympic Committee marketing document, meaning about 330,000 remained available as of the latest update from the organizing committee. Of 1.54 million tickets available for the Vancouver Games in 2010, 97 percent, or 1.49 million, were sold. The Canadian Olympic Committee said it didn?t have information on last-minute sales for the 2010 games.
Click here to read more.