The European Tour Operators Association, a
London-based sister trade organization of the U.S. Tour Operators
Association, released a report that hurls a bowling ball into the
center of the conventional wisdom that the Olympic Games are a
bonanza for tourism.
The ETOAs 23-page
report, loaded with statistics from the last five Olympic Games
(Summer and Winter from 1998 to 2006), concluded that the tourism
industries in countries that host the Games do not receive a
long-term boost, but in fact suffer from a drop in the years before
and after the event.
Director Tom Jenkins said the report questions prevailing beliefs
on four things: the concept of sports-generated tourism; the
numbers claimed for the TV audiences; the Games displacement of
tourism; and the impact of that displacement.
According to the
report, a trend of 10% growth in visitor arrivals in Australia, for
example, turned into a decline two years before the 2000 Summer
Olympics and growth remained stagnant for two years after the
event. Nearby New Zealand, on the other hand, maintained steady
growth throughout the decade 1994-2004.
Although the report
contradicts many high-profile studies that proclaim the Olympic
Games boost tourism, Jenkins said the studies that show gains are
based on projections into probable scenarios, and the ETOA study is
backward-looking, based on what has actually happened.
The ETOA study also
claims that the beliefs of a long-term benefit to tourism are
untrue. Taking Barcelona (Summer Games, 1992) as an example, the
report says its tourism growth since the games was not as good as
that of comparable European cities, such as Prague, Czech Republic,
and Dublin, Ireland.
Jenkins said, The
presence of the Olympics deters regular tourists [who] perceive
that the city will be full, disrupted, congested and
Jenkins, the purpose of the report was not merely to rain on
Londons parade, or that of other cities vying for the Olympics, but
to take a more realistic view in order to maximize whatever
benefits are achievable. (London will host the Summer Games in
The ETOA hopes to
ward off the impulses of politicians to impose additional taxes on
tourism businesses, he said, based on the erroneous belief that
they are the primary beneficiaries of the Olympics.
also intended to counter the complacent belief that the benefits
from the Olympics will come automatically and to advocate an
aggressive and informed marketing campaign, he said.
government marketing organization, questioned the overarching
conclusions of the report, but also found some points of
The agency issued a
statement affirming the belief that The Games are a long-term
investment in the future of Britains visitor economy, while
acknowledging that realizing the tourism benefits of the Olympics
will require a properly researched strategy and
We recognize that
the benefits will not just fall in our laps, said Elliott Frisby, a
spokesman for VisitBritains London office. We must invest in a
strategy to make sure the potentials are maximized. We must make
sure we are aware of the pitfalls and challenges and be ready to
leap into action as soon as we kick off the campaign in
contact reporter David Cogswell, send e-mail to [email protected].