London’s Olympic tourism boost?

A tourism campaign aimed at encouraging overseas visitors to London by capitalising on the success of the Olympics will be launched within weeks according to a report in the Evening Standard.

The multi-million-pound global advertising blitz is intended to overturn the trend for host cities to see a slump in visitors after the Games.

Due to launch in early October, the campaign has the provisional title of London: ‘Now See It For Yourself’ and will be run by the Mayor’s promotional organisation London & Partners and backed by airlines, hotel chains and others in the tourist sector.A spokeswoman for London & Partners said: “From the time we got the bid for the Games we have known that what previous Olympic host cities failed to do was to maximise on the momentum after the event.

“We talked to tourist people in Sydney who were very honest and who said their mistake was to sit back and think people would come, which they didn’t.

“The next three to six months is the best possible opportunity we have to capitalise on the success of the Games. After that the door closes so it’s now or never.”

Following the hugely successful Sydney Olympics in 2000, tourism bosses predicted that 10 million people would be visiting Australia by 2010. In reality, about half that number came and Beijing and Athens also experienced similar disappointment.

Rather than using a star of the Olympics, the London campaign will feature a specially-created character and will be led by digital advertising aimed at the US, Australia and Europe.

A survey of more than 250 tourism-related businesses by trade association UKinbound found that 88% said they had experienced less demand during the Games than during the same period last year.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but given all the promises of sporting and economic legacy this campaign smacks of desperation. Has the penny finally dropped that for many people the idea of coming to London during the Olympics with the prospect of travel chaos, over-priced hotels and poor weather was highly unappealing?

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