VisitBritain rejects claims of post-2012 tourist blight

VisitBritain has launched a robust defence of its tourism strategy for the 2012 Olympics after a report warned that recent Games had a negative impact on the host nation’s tourist industry.

Sandie Dawe, VisitBritain’s director of strategy and communications, says that plans for 2012 would develop the entire country’s tourist industry and help rebrand London as a “cutting edge” destination.

She spoke out after a report from the European Tour Operators Association (ETOA) said “post-Olympic blight” had affected every host nation since the Seoul Games of 1988 (MW.co.uk July 7).

Updating its findings from 2006, the body said: “The Athens Games show the impression that everything will be overcrowded and overpriced blights a region.”

But Dawe rejects the claims and said that Greek tourism had suffered because the national tourism body had not developed a robust plan for the country has a whole. She adds that a downturn in visitors to previous host nation, Australia, in the years after the 2000 Games in Sydney was partly down to 9/11 and SARS.

Dawe adds that London, which receives 16 million overseas visitors a year, has the capacity to absorb Olympic tourists without displacing traditional visitors, while the Games would promote London to an emerging global audience and help develop the infrastructure.

“It gives us the chance to showcase the contemporary side of Britain and re-invigorate our image in the US,” she adds. “Developing markets will find it exciting and we can rebrand London as a cutting-edge city.”

She says that the country as a whole would benefit through events like the
Cultural Olympiad and torch relay.

Dawe adds that London is a bigger city than many previous hosts and the event will bolster rather than overshadow the tourist industry.

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