VisitBritain has today admitted that the London 2012 Olympics will not boost UK visitor numbers next year.
Even though Britain will also celebrate the Queen's Diamond Jubilee in 2012, VisitBritain said it expects visitor numbers to remain the same as this year.
The tourist authority forecast 30.7m arrivals next year, bringing in a total of £17.6m.
VisitBritain chief executive Sandie Dawe said: “While these figures are in line with expected numbers in 2011, maintaining current visitor levels would be a good outcome in a year that is proving difficult to predict due to the current global economic climate and the impact this may have in many of our key markets."
Dawe pointed out that the UK should see a record number of holiday visits this year, although the business travel market is down, which he said could fall further if the economy worsens.
Nevertheless, Dawe said hosting the Olympics would still be a bonus for UK tourism.
“2012 gives us an unprecedented opportunity to showcase Britain in a way that we have never had before, allowing us to revitalise our appeal in mature markets and help us get Britain on the destination wish list of first time visitors from growth markets such as Brazil, China, India and Russia," he said.
Dawe said VisitBritain and its commercial partners had put together a "fantastic range of deals" to entice visitors in 2012, which will be supported by its largest ever image campaign. Of the 8.8m Olympic tickets, 1m have been sold in overseas markets.
“VisitBritain is working hard to ensure that the Games and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations will generate positive PR for Britain, taking advantage of the global interest to increase tourism numbers in the years ahead and creating a lasting tourism legacy for the future,” he added.
The tourist authority said it was working closely with the tourism industry to "counteract any short-term impact" that might be caused by hosting the Games and it is looking at how it can help tackle the issue of displacement of overseas visitors.
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By Linsey McNeill
Tuesday, December 20, 2011