Government austerity means events such as the London 2012 Olympics and the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games are unlikely to be repeated.
That is the view of Barcelona Tourism Board chief executive Jordi William Carnes, who told the Arabian Travel Market in Dubai: “Cities may not have the money to invest any more.
“Perhaps cities in Europe and the US will have to reshape their strategy [for hosting events].”
Tracy Halliwell, director of major events and business tourism for London and Partners, said: “It is becoming increasingly difficult to get government cut through [on projects].
“We have to be much more specific about what we want to host and why. There has to be a much stronger return on investment.”
Halliwall said: “There are going to be fewer destinations be able to host mega events. The question is whether we can change the events to involve more cities rather than the cities to host more mega events.”
But Grant Salter, Deloitte head of travel, hospitality and leisure in the Middle East, highlighted a problem with hosting events in more than country.
He said: “It is severely challenging. [Football Association] Fifa is very hesitant to go down the multi-centre route again after the experience of the World Cup in Korea and Japan.”
Carnes agreed, saying: “People want to be proud of a city or country. If you spread an event around, who gets the benefit of it?
“It’s rational to imagine London sharing an event with Paris or Madrid with Barcelona. But it’s also unacceptable.”