WTM: Olympic hosts get tourism benefit

Preparations for the next two Olympic Games in
Beijing and London have came under the spotlight at a seminar on “Tourism and
Sports”, jointly organized by UNWTO and the UK Ministry of Culture, Media and Sport
at the World Travel Market.In the presence of the two next hosts of the Olympics, China in 2008 and Britain in
2012, UNWTO Secretary-General Francesco Frangialli stressed that “Tourism and Sport
are two forces that represent the positive aspects in the globalization process.
Large sporting events are more and more conceived and planned also as large tourism
events and sporting activities are an important part of today’s tourism supply”.

The visitor numbers during the duration of the Games is but a small part of the real
tourism impact. The most important tourism value is how these events contribute to
position and market the country as a tourist destination beyond the main venue. The
next Olympic Games will bring Beijing in everybody’s home around the globe, but also
other regions of China will benefit.

London is already one of the world’s leading destinations. Nonetheless the Olympic
Games represent a unique opportunity for the British tourism sector to further
position the whole United Kingdom as a truly world class destination in a sector
characterized by a strong and increasing global competition.

The Olympic Games have proven to be an important engine for the emergence of a
stronger and more efficient tourism sector, establishing new standards of service
quality, infrastructure and organisational ability along the way.

The last Olympics have given Greece a staggering amount of hours on television,
exceeding by far what could have been done in years of publicity efforts. The
post-Olympic success of Australia shows how the Games can boost the tourism industry
to levels never experienced before. The Games of 1992 have been the engine of major
structural changes of the city of Barcelona, which has taken since then a relevant
place in the map of European destinations.