JULY 7 - A NEW report published today claims that hosting the Olympics damages a country's tourism market, not help it.


The report, published by the European Tour Operators Association (ETOA), said that hosting the Olympics typically stalls tourism growth.


It cites the examples of Sydney, host of the 2000 Olympics, and Athens, who staged the Games four years ago.


Latest data from Greece and Australia suggests that tourism to the host country is harmed even more than to the host city, claims ETOA.

Greece has failed to keep pace with neighbours Croatia and Turkey and the performance gap is widening, with the growth in visitor arrivals trailing that of Turkey by more than 20 per cent a year since the Athens Olympics.

Following the 2000 Olympics, visitors to Australia declined for three years in a row, while tourism to the prime competitor destination, New Zealand continued to grow consistently, ETOA said.


It also said that as the Beijing Olympics approaches less people are visiting China, put off by fears of high prices and shortage of accommodation, although there is currently plenty of availability.


The report said: "There is no strong link between hosting sporting events and increased tourism.


"The television audiences regularly cited for such events as the Olympics are exaggerated.


"Attendees at the games displace normal visitors and scare tourists away for some time.


“It is vital the problems experienced by the host cities of past games be acknowledged and addressed to avoid them reoccurring.


“London can overcome these difficulties if time and money are spent on campaigns to smooth out the inevitable post-Olympic dip in tourism numbers.”


Tom Jenkins, the executive director of ETOA, said: “The principal problem is the impression that everything will be overcrowded and overpriced and this blights a region.”