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UK tourism slumps during Olympics

Aug 13 2012 14:13 Sapa-AP

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London - The Olympics brought less tourist money to recession-hit Britain than officials promised, a trade group said on Monday, with a majority of businesses reporting losses from last year.

A survey of more than 250 tour operators, hoteliers and visitor attractions found that tourist traffic fell all over Britain, not just London, said UKinbound, a leading trade association representing British tour operators said.

The survey said 88% of British tourism-oriented businesses reported some losses during the games compared with the same period last year.

Officials are still tallying up the total number of tourists who came to - or avoided - London this summer. The capital normally sees about 1.5 million tourists on average in August, but UKinbound and other trade groups say a significant number have chosen to steer clear of London, and even the rest of Britain because they thought it would be too busy.

The official visitor figures won't be available until September.

Tourism officials say that international Olympics visitors to London, including athletes, officials and tourists, totalled about 300 000. Domestic spectators from Britain made up the majority of people visiting games venues.

Restaurants and shops have complained that these games visitors did not spend as much money on food and shopping as typical summer tourists.

"The people who came to the Games really didn't do very much sightseeing, didn't do very much shopping, didn't do very much eating out," said Miles Quest, a spokesperson for the British Hospitality Association.

London's hotels have hit about 80% occupancy, not more than typical August rates, Quest added.

Visa, the only credit card accepted at the Olympics, reported that international visitors to Britain spent more than £450m ($705m) on their cards during the first week of the games, up by 8% on the same time last year.

Around £12.7ms were spent on Visa cards in London restaurants last week, an increase of almost 20% on a year ago.

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london olympics  |  tourism
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