The tourism benefits of hosting the Olympics could be as much as £1b more than current government forecasts of £2b, claims a report published today.
Commissioned by budget hotel group Travelodge, the new report reveals Olympic hosts, on average, outperform global tourism growth by 50% in the four years before and the four years after the Games.
However, it warns of a 4.3% decline in growth in the Games year itself.
Should UK tourism perform at this projected level, £3b extra spending could be generated by 6.6 million more visitors between 2007 and 2016. A market worth £14.2b today would rise 37% to £24b in 2016 creating 75,000 more tourism jobs for the economy.
Another £900m would flow in if the forecast visitor loss predicted for the year of the Games could be reversed bringing the legacy closer to £4b.
Based on a review of tourism data for Seoul, Barcelona, Sydney and Athens, the report identifies four potential sources of tourism revenue directly related to hosting the Games:
- Recovery in long haul markets - Games can be a boost to reviving sales in the flat but critical US market, which remains 16% below 2001 levels.
- Iconic events - Being the Olympic host is the hook to attract iconic sporting and cultural events to London. A thousand top and 2nd tier events that could come to Britain as a result of the Olympics have been identified eg the Tour de France weekend, which is estimated to raise £115m in new visitor income for London
- Business tourism - Sydney attracted hundreds of major conferences because of its status as host destination. London would seek to win a share of the 1,000 international conferences that have come to Europe but not London in pst 20 years. In this period, the UK has slipped from first to 19th in the conference league table.
Grant Hearn, chief executive of Travelodge, said: "I think the report is a welcome wake-up call. Potentially, the Games can act as a catalyst for UK tourism to outperform the world average by 50% for eight out of the next nine years.
"These revenues could significantly reduce Britain's £18b tourism trade deficit transforming UK tourism into a powerhouse industry of the future."
By Daniel Thomas