UK sees Olympic boost in tourist spend, despite fall in visitors

The recent London Olympic and Paralympic Games failed to attract a rise in visitor numbers to the UK, but did generate an increase in tourist spend, new figures have revealed.

According to the latest International Passenger Survey from the Office for National Statistics, there was a five per cent dip in visitor numbers to the UK during August, when the Games took place.

However, the month saw a nine per cent increase in visitor spend, with a record £2.38 billion injected into the UK economy by overseas tourists during August.

The figures suggested that around 590,000 international visitors attended, participated or worked at an Olympic or Paralymic sports event, spending approximately £76 million in the UK during the process

This means that each one of these visitors spent £1,290 on average, almost double what visitors to the UK normally spend.

But as well as a short-term boost, it is hoped that the Olympics could have a long-term positive effect on UK tourism, helping to bring more money into the country and drive up hospitality employment.

"To ensure that there is a golden legacy for tourism as a result of hosting London 2012, we have gone out in all of our key markets with the next phase of our GREAT campaign," said Sandie Dawe, chief executive at VisitBritain.

"The extraordinary exposure Britain received during the games has provided us with an ideal platform to remind people around the world why a visit to Britain is a must, and we are working hard to deliver a strong finish to the year."

Meanwhile, the figures also revealed that the UK has seen a total of 20.9 million overseas visitors so far this year, the same as for the corresponding period of 2011 in line with VisitBritain's forecast that the country should expect around 31 million inbound arrivals in 2012

These visitors have spent a total of £12.3 billion, up three per cent from 2011 and a new record high.

Berkeley Scott is a leading London hospitality recruitment agency