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SBD Global/July 22, 2013/International Football

Euro 2012 Co-Host Poland Sees Modest Increase In Tourist Activity After Event

One year and £16B ($24B) after Euro 2012, the novelty of hosting Poland's first major sports event in history seems to have worn off, "and Poland has begun to ask difficult questions about the legacy of the tournament," according to Wiktor Szary of the LONDON TIMES. According to the data released by the country's Institute of Tourism, Poland's profits from co-hosting the event amounted to a mere £200M -- "a sum not far off what UEFA wired back to Geneva after the tournament and a paltry 1.25 per cent of Poland's total Euro 2012-related spendings." The "gloomy economic climate might be to blame, but the event failed to noticeably boost tourism in the country:" while a poll conducted among 2,000 foreign visitors during the championship finals indicated that most of them were hoping to come back and that nearly all of them would recommend Poland as a holiday destination, this has so far translated into a rather disappointing tourist activity growth figure of 4% -- just 500,000 additional foreign visitors on top of the usual 13.5 million. The large, purpose-built tournament venues "are also proving less than profitable." Four brand-new stadiums "were built in the five years preceding the tournament." Today, the four white elephants struggle to make a profit, "with the Polish Ministry of Sport having to resort to such desperate measures as subsidising Madonna's concert at the Warsaw Stadium and considering moving all of its offices there to help the company in charge of the venue break even." Meanwhile, several large companies involved in building the new infrastructure "have fallen prey to a lethal price war over the state tenders and gone bust, dragging the whole construction industry into recession." But while it is true that Poland is yet to reap any tangible financial profits from co-hosting the championship finals, "experts point to the vast investment in infrastructure that the country had to make in the run-up to the event as the main long-term benefit" (LONDON TIMES, 7/20).
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