Hosting the Olympic games can damage the tourism industry of the host nation rather than boosting it, according to a new report.
In an update to its 2006 survey, the European Tour Operators Association (ETOA) says the growth of tourism in Greece has lagged way behind those of other countries in the region, like Turkey and Croatia, following a trend of “post-Olympic blight” that has affected all host nations since 1988.
Australia suffered three consecutive years of tourism decline after the 2000 event, while visitor numbers to New Zealand grew consistently, points out the ETOA.
It adds that with the Olympics in Beijing just weeks away fewer than half of the city’s four-star hotel rooms and three-quarters of five-star rooms have been booked.
“Olympic visitors do not behave like normal guests. Their presence is determined by their interest in sport. They do not come to sight-see, attend the theatre or recreate themselves on a beach,” the ETOA comments.
The report adds that traditional tourists are replaced by sports fans during the Olympics, disrupting the natural growth of tourism. “The most important motivator for visitors is example and word of mouth: this sales mechanism loses momentum as visitors are deterred. Their very absence is a suppression of marketing.”
It adds that worldwide exposure on TV does not encourage as many visitors as is thought, and the hype surrounding the hoist city can have a negative effect.
“The Athens Games show that the impression that everything will be overcrowded and overpriced blights a region,” notes the ETOA, saying that there was a 25% drop-off in demand for the Ionian Islands around the Games.