EUROPE’s inbound tourism industry has backed the 2012
Olympics coming to the continent – but not necessarily in
their own core cities.

London, Paris and Madrid are all vying to stage the 2012 games,
along with New York and Moscow. A poll of the 260 members of the
European Tour Operators Association found 39% were “very
positive” about the 2012 Olympics coming to Europe, with a
further 28% “slightly positive”.

However, 13% said they were “slightly negative”.

ETOA executive director Tom Jenkins suggested despite the
enthusiasm for the event a ‘not in my back yard’
attitude could also exist among individual hoteliers and inbound
operators.

Jenkins believes members want the event in Europe as it could boost
business to other cities, for example if the 2012 Olympics was held
in Paris, visitors could travel on to London to extend their
trip.

But he fears inbound travel companies may not want the two-week
showcase in their core market due to the disruption it could cause
the industry.

“Having a major event in your city can be bad news as it
causes disruption. If you fill room space, you have an
Olympic-sized problem – it takes a huge chunk of the
availability and you do not know how to sell that stock next
year.”

Best Loved Hotels chairman Richard Tobias said “one or two
people do agree with Jenkins”.

However, the former Tourism Alliance director-general and British
Inbound Tour Operators Association (now UKinbound) chief executive
said: “The vast majority would welcome the Olympics in
London.”

UKinbound chief executive Stephen Dowd conceded “there is a
reduction of traditional trade and disruption during the Olympic
year for the host city”. But he said there is a
“heightened interest for the two years before and the six
years after”.