London 2012 given glowing recommendation by visitors, University of Greenwich research proves
14 August 2012
Research conducted by the University of Greenwich shows that more than 80% of visitors to this summer’s Olympic Games have left with a glowing recommendation of their time at London 2012.
“Day visitors and longer stay overnight tourists alike have been highly impressed by the quality of service, accessibility and transport, security arrangements, and natural environment they have experienced,” explains Peter Vlachos, principal lecturer and head of the University's London Centre for Events Management.
Many British people often snub London as a tourist destination because it can be considered too busy, frenetic and unwelcoming, but impressions of London as a tourist destination for both overseas tourists and UK visitors has improved as a result of the Games.
Vlachos said: “Whether it’s a young family from the South East of England coming into London to enjoy a picnic while watching the Games on one of the many free screens, or an overseas visitor spending tens of thousands on a month-long trip of a lifetime to the UK, the Olympics have offered enjoyment for everyone.”
Interestingly, it was noted that visitors from the rest of Europe had higher expectations of the city than their domestic counterparts, which is perhaps down to the often glamourised image of London, and Vlachos found that foreign tourists were surprised at the lack of ‘Olympic vibe’ outside of venues.
“Some overseas visitors were expecting a more festive atmosphere on London's streets and in the Olympic Park itself,” he said. “We've run a very secure, friendly and efficient Games but perhaps at the cost of missing out on a bit more of the wild side.”
More research conducted by Vlachos and his team suggested that businesses were experiencing a drop in trade during the Games as visitors kept away from areas they expected to be busy. However, with 75% of the survey respondents saying they were likely or very likely to want to return to London following their positive experience at London 2012, there may be a potential longer term benefit for businesses that missed out this time.
“This is fantastic news for London's attractions and businesses some of which have noticed a drop in trading during the Games,” he added. “It may take a while, but we expect that word of mouth marketing and increased future visits will have a positive impact in the longer term.”
The survey investigated spending patterns, trip durations and perceptions of London as a visitor and tourist destination, with the results based on 358 face to face interviews conducted live during the Olympics between 31st July and 10th August 2012.
While the research paints a positive picture of people’s experiences of London during the Games, only time will tell whether that view remains in the future, as Vlachos rounds up:
“Given past misgivings about British service levels, the security issue and potential transport mishaps, the results are well merited notwithstanding the inevitable 'feel-good' factor that the Olympics can generate.
“As the London Olympic legacy unfolds, we will have to wait and see what the future will bring. History tells us that it is wholly possible to hold a memorable Games and still run into financial disasters, with Montreal being the prime example.
“The political question remains as to who wins and who loses in the long run, as the recent debates about housing for local east London residents demonstrate.
“For rising and developing world cities like Sydney, Vancouver, and Beijing there is no question that the Games can put the city on to the global map for a generation. Whether established cities like London and Athens can benefit in the same way is another matter."
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