ETOA: London Olympics ‘will damage tourism’

The London Olympics will damage tourism to Britain by deterring normal visitors, the European Tour Operators Association will warn next week.

Preparation for the 2012 Olympics is already distorting the market for hotel rooms in London, according to ETOA, which describes official expectations of visitor numbers as “exaggerated”.

ETOA is poised to publish research on the effects of previous Olympic Games on host cities, which will provide evidence that the Games are “profoundly disruptive”.

The association will warn: “Normal tourist businesses suffer during the Games period . . . The region around the Games can suffer more than the host city . . . The impression that everything will be overcrowded and overpriced blights a region . . . [and] these difficulties are exacerbated by exaggerated claims of the benefits derived from the Games.”

National tourism agency VistBritain warned at the weekend that foreign visitor numbers were likely to fall in 2012. It said overseas holidaymakers were likely to be put off by higher-than-normal prices and fears of overcrowding.

Britain drew 28 million overseas tourists last year. It has been forecast 320,000 visitors will attend the Games.

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