London's staging of the 2012 Olympics will have a negative rather than a positive effect on tourism in Britain, it has been claimed.
A report published today by the European Tour Operators Association (ETOA) argues that four of the last five Olympic venues have suffered a downturn in tourism during and after the tournament, contrary to average tourism growth rates of ten per cent prior to the event.
The report also attacks the viewing figures reported for each Olympic Games, undermining the assertion that host nations get valuable additional publicity as tourism destinations.
"These findings may seem surprising because during the Games the citys hotels are full. But this situation is shortlived," said ETOA's executive director, Tom Jenkins.
"Olympic visitors tend not to be big consumers of sightseeing excursions; neither are they committed visitors to museums, historic monuments and other classic tourist attractions."
ETOA's report flies in the face of established thinking about the impact of the Olympics on tourism, which argues that large numbers of foreign sports fans travel to the host nation while millions of others are imbued with a sense of the country's attractiveness thanks to complimentary television coverage.
ETOA's report seeks to disprove this thesis, pointing out that during the Games tourists perceive that the host city "will be full, disrupted, congested and overpriced".
Mr Jenkins warned the UK government that it has to take steps to diminish the claimed negative impact of the Olympics.
It recommends committing to a reduction on taxes affecting the tourism industry, funding a heightened marketing campaign to counter the expected dip and set up initiatives to incorporate the Olympics with more traditional sightseeing activities.
"London is a great tourist city. Action must be taken to ensure its continued growth is not disrupted by the Olympics," Mr Jenkins concluded.