The London Olympics: economic impact #3 – more cold reality

International visitor arrivals in August were down 5% on August 2011. Over the 3 months June to August international visitor numbers were down 7%.  This can be attributed to the weather, the Olympics (the congestion and displacement effects) or the recession in Europe.

Some will counter that expenditure was up 9%, but as reported earlier expenditure was down in the shops. It seems likely that the spending was up on Olympic tickets and much of that money did not benefit the UK economy.

  • “The ONS estimated that 590,000 people in July and August normally resident outside the UK had visited and attended at least one ticketed Olympic or Paralympic event, of whom 420,000 visited primarily for the games.
  • f the 420,000 people whose main reason for visiting was the Olympics, 260,000 were residents of European countries with 80,000 coming from North America.
  • The average spend by visitors who attended at least one ticketed event was £1,290 – almost twice as much as those who did not.”

In the cold light of of dwan ABTA commented that “Figures from previous Olympics show that it is normal for the host country to experience a dip in international visitors during the Games,” – the voice of cool reason was not heard  in the hype before the games.

“The British Retail Consortium (BRC) said its figures showed that August had the slowest sales growth they had seen all year.

“It is very clear that overall the Olympics did not deliver any benefits to UK retailers in August,” said Richard Dodd from the BRC.

“There were lots of overseas visitors who attended the Games and whose focus was not on shopping.”

“On Tuesday, the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions (Alva) said that the wet summer and Olympics had meant that some London attractions had hosted 60% fewer visitors than usual during the two-week period of the Games.”

“For London attractions, the Olympic period was one of their worst trading periods in living memory and for visitor attractions, the summer is their equivalent of retailers’ Christmas,” said Alva chief executive Bernard Donoghue.”

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