Today marks the one year countdown to the start of the 2012 Olympics in London. And, in preparation for what many industry insiders fear will be a negative impact on West End ticket sales, the Society London Theatre (SOLT) has announced that, for the first time ever, more than half of Theatreland’s shows have extended their booking periods to offer sales 15 months in advance.

The hope is that, as millions plan trips to London and the UK in 2012, they will also be enticed to include a theatre performance as part of their itinerary – a decision made easier by the more widespread, advance booking periods.

London mayor Boris Johnson commented: “My message to the good folks around the world is 'Come to London in 2012 for a year like no other!’ We will be taking centre stage and whether you are coming for the Games or any other time during the year, surely no visit to our magnificent city will be complete without enjoying the spectacular entertainment London theatre has to offer. The capital's theatre industry delivers the greatest shows on earth every night with a star-studded line-up of critically acclaimed and Olivier and Tony Award-winning productions. Visitors from around the UK and across the globe should snap up their tickets now for our world-class drama, musicals, dance and opera.”

Mark Rubinstein, the recently elected president of SOLT, the membership body for theatre owners and producers, which also organises the annual Laurence Olivier Awards, added: “London theatre is something for everyone to be proud of and is a great ambassador for UK plc. The economic impact of London theatre on the UK economy is estimated at £2.6 billion per annum, and we are thrilled that the doors of London theatres will be open for business as usual throughout 2012 with a huge range of superb productions ensuring that a great night out at the theatre is a must-do for millions.”

Amongst the shows announcing extended 2012 booking periods are long-runners The 39 Steps, Billy Elliot the Musical, Blood Brothers, Dreamboats and Petticoats, Jersey Boys, Legally Blonde the Musical, Les Misérables, Disney’s The Lion King, Mamma Mia!, The Mousetrap, The Phantom of the Opera, Stomp, Thriller Live, War Horse, We Will Rock You, Wicked and The Woman in Black, as well as more recent arrivals The Wizard of Oz, Shrek The Musical, Million Dollar Quartet and Ghost The Musical as well as the forthcoming transfers of Rock of Ages and the Royal Shakespeare Company’s adaptation of Roald Dahl’s Matilda The Musical.

Announcement of the Olympic year booking extensions comes on the back of April’s Royal Wedding, during which West End ticket sales suffered a sharp decline, despite the increased number of visitors to London.