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Economy

ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Économie touristique : des jeux mais pas de pain

by Christophe Deroubaix

Tourist Economy; The Games, But No Winnings

Translated Wednesday 8 August 2012, by Sarah Noyce and reviewed by Derek Hanson

London, special correspondent. Contrary to what Prime Minister David Cameron promised, the Olympics are generating no or very little extra income when compared to a normal (Olympic-free) summer.

Sixteen billion Euros worth of economic benefit, three of which will be thanks to an increase in tourism: this ill-considered promise made by British Prime Minister, David Cameron, remained convincing for just a few days. And the first figures are in to prove it: crowds of tourists are not flocking into London as expected. “At the moment, the number of visitors is considerably lower than this time last year”, Tom Jenkins, CEO of the Association of European Tour Operators, announced to the AFP (a leading French news agency). “During August, London usually welcomes around 300,000 foreign visitors and 800,000 Brits a day. This year, these people have been implicitly asked to stay away from the capital and that’s what they’ve done”, he further explained. We saw earlier this week how numbers of Londoners packed their bags and fled to the coast or the countryside to escape the Games. Likewise, it’s proved to be the case that many potential foreign tourists preferred not to visit the British capital during the Olympics. The incoming stream of “Olympians” (500,000 ticket-holders for the Games, a proportion of whom live in London) does not totally compensate for the numbers of people flooding out of the city and those who did not come at all.

Trains on the rise, planes in decline

The big hotel chains welcoming the delegations are not doing too badly, but that’s all. “In fact, we have concluded that reservations are in keeping with a normal, good summer in London”, the management of the InterContinental Hotels Group reported to the AFP. The Eurostar has declared a significant increase in traffic of fifteen percent, whilst air traffic is in decline. As for commerce, just pose the question, “how’s business going?”, to any shop-owner in any area of central London and you’re sure to be met with a sceptical face or perhaps a two-word answer: “so, so”.

Promises

The organisers of the Games continue to promise long term benefits, but their hopes already seem to have been dampened by the bank, Goldman Sachs’ prediction: “London is already a city renowned for tourism and investments, so the benefits that one can expect from this publicity could well be rather limited”. A study published last week in The Observer showed that GDP growth of other hosting cities sank during the quarters following the Games in comparison with the quarters which preceded the event. Already in the middle of a recession, London’s Olympic heyday is quickly coming to an end...


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