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SBD Global/January 3, 2013/Olympics

Tourism Data Casts Doubt On Olympics Legacy For London, U.K.

The latest data show that, despite hopes the London Games "would showcase the country’s attractions to the world, the number of visitors has declined since the Games," according to Christopher Thompson of the FINANCIAL TIMES. The Office for National Statistics said that "after a 4% drop in overseas visits in the three months to Sept. 30 -- when the Olympic and Paralympic Games were held in London -- there was another 4% decline in October." As a result, the U.K.’s tourism deficit -- meaning more money was spent by Britons holidaying abroad than overseas tourists in Britain -- "widened to £5.7B ($9.26B) from July to September, up from £5.3B in the same period in '11." Meanwhile U.K.-bound tourists’ spending "declined by 11% year-on-year in October." British Hospitality Association CEO Ufi Ibrahim said, "From a tourism perspective there is a danger that we won’t really see a legacy at all from the Olympics." It "became clear over the summer that many overseas tourists had stayed away during the Games." The Association of Leading Visitor Attractions, which includes tourist sites such as the Tower of London and St. Paul’s Cathedral, said that "visitor numbers were down more than 50% at many attractions." Hotel occupancy rates suggest that the Olympics "also failed to act as an advertisement for London as a tourist destination after the Games." Occupancy rates in September and November "have been flat year-on-year." Consulting firm PKF partner Robert Barnard said, "There hasn’t been much in the way of a blip or boon in the hotel business since the Olympics." Nick Varney, CEO of Merlin Entertainment, the theme park operator, blamed the Olympics for "a huge cannibalisation effect" on his business (FINANCIAL TIMES, 1/1).
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