November 5 - Tourism agency Visit London have denied a report that the expected tourist boom from the 2012 Olympic and Paralympics could turn into a visitor slump.


Tourism to China was down both before and after the 2008 Beijing Olympics, according to data from the European Tour Operators Association (ETOA).

It added that none of the cities hosting the Games since 1988 had recorded any conspicuous tourism growth afterwards.

ETOA said that if London follows the same pattern as Beijing, the capital could see more than 2.5 million fewer visitors and a loss of £1.5 billion in tourism revenue.

The ETOA data showed that from the spring of 2008 international visitor arrivals to Beijing plummeted and in the month before the Games they were 30 per cent down on the previous year.

In the months after the 2008 Olympics, the tourism slump continued with international arrivals more than 20 per cent down.

The ETOA added that in the five years prior to the Sydney 2000 Olympics, Australia's and New Zealand's tourism was growing at the same rate but Australia's growth lost ground significantly straight after the Games.

But Visit London claimed that its own research puts the estimated additional tourism revenues from the London 2012 Olympic Games at £1.5 billion over ten years and comparisons between Beijing and London are not relevant as they are completely different cities.


Visitors will experience value for money when visiting London, they claimed.


ETOA executive director Tom Jenkins said: "Every city is unique, and each city handles the Olympics in its own way.


"But we have yet to have a Games where tourism has not been disrupted, and disrupted in a way that causes real harm.

"Even in the case of Athens [2004], where they carefully restricted new capacity, there were considerable losses before and after the Games both in the capital and throughout Greece."


Sally Chatterjee, Visit London's chief executive, said:  "It's impossible to compare Olympic cities directly.


"London is the world's most visited destination by foreign travellers and one of the most accessible cities in the world.


"We believe the London 2012 Olympic Games will bring an influx of new visitors to London.


"Olympic year will be one of the most exciting times in our history and no-one will want to miss out.


"We're expecting the London 2012 Olympic Games to deliver nearly £1.5 billion in economic benefit to the city from increased tourism revenues over ten years."



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