UK economy struggles to secure golden profits from London Olympics
By Julien Mivielle, AFP
August 13, 2012, 11:56 am TWN
LONDON -- With the London Olympics set to wrap up Sunday, analysts said Britain's recession-hit economy was unlikely to have won a major boost from the Games that have been a triumph for the nation's athletes.
While Britain's construction sector benefited hugely before the Olympics, experts have said the 17-day sporting spectacle had not delivered significant financial rewards and neither was it expected to in the months and years ahead.
Mary Rance, chief executive of tourism body UKinbound, said the Olympics which have cost British taxpayers 9.3 billion pounds (US$14.5 billion) to stage have failed to lift her sector.
“From a positive perspective, the Olympics have been a catalyst for huge investment in infrastructure in London,” Rance told AFP.
But she added: “All the signs are that the Olympics have not delivered additional visitors to London and the UK. In fact, it is expected that numbers may well end up having fallen by well over 30 percent.”
Following claims in the first few days of the Games that they had turned London into a ghost town, British Prime Minister David Cameron urged people to “come back into the capital.”
And his words seem to have made an impact, with retailers across London's main shopping district in and around Oxford Street reporting an increase in sales and a higher footfall in the days after Cameron's remarks.
In the run-up to the Olympics, which began on July 27, commuters and tourists were warned to stay away amid fears that London's transport system could not cope with millions of extra people descending on the capital.
The Games had long been heralded as a key boost to the British economy but industry body the European Tour Operators Association said tourist numbers had fallen “dramatically” in the first few days of the Games.