According to City AM (Friday 11 January 2013), official statistics (Office of National Statistics) indicate that 685,000 people came to Britain to watch the 2012 Olympics. On average these visitors spent approximately double what would be expected of the average visitor during their stay. However, overall tourist numbers were 3% lower than usual in the 3rd Quarter of 2012. It seems that other categories of tourists stayed away. Could this be due to inflated prices for flights and hotel rooms ?
These statistics highlight the difficulty for economists who are tasked with estimating whether the Olympics and Paralympics were good for the economy (in terms of value for money) or not.
It would appear that forecasts of visitor numbers for the Olympics have proved to be conservative. In the Mail On-Line, 27 July 2011, Catherine Eade quotes from an independent report by Oxford Economics which estimated the number of visitors to London for the 2012 Games at 450,000. However Ms Eade did point out that “some organisations expect higher numbers than this.”
To put all of these numbers in context, the total number of visitors to Great Britain in a year would be around 30 million.
[Note: the author is still checking some of these statistics]