A leading hospitality association has disputed claims London will not reap any long-term benefit from the 2012 Olympic Games.
Brigid Simmonds, chief executive of Business in Sport and Leisure (BISL) and member of the ministerial group on tourism and London 2012, said there would be clear gains through higher tourist numbers in the run up to, and after, the Games.
She said: "Business tourism will be a winner in this respect and as facilities are built, many people will want to come to London."
Simmonds added that with 30,000 accredited journalists in London for 2012, and athletes competing from more than 200 countries, the Games would act as a huge showcase, boosting Britain's reputation and tourism.
Her comments came in response to a report published yesterday (6 July) by the European Tour Operators Association (ETOA), which claimed that between 1988 and 2000, Olympic host cities witnessed a drop in international visitor numbers in the years following the Games, not an increase as generally mooted.
Tom Jenkins, ETOA executive director, admitted the report findings were at odds with many other studies, but argued that the Olympics upset normal visitor cycles and deter some regular tourists from visiting.
Kurt Jansen, policy director at Tourism Alliance, agreed there was no guarantee with the Olympics. "It's not a God-given right that the tourism industry will do well," he said.
By Alix Young