Mega events can drive tourism if handled in the right way, tourism ministers agreed at the UNWTO & WTM Ministers’ Summit in London on the second day of World Travel Market 2014 (Tuesday), reports Press Today’s Mike Baginski.
The UNWTO defined the legacy benefits in five ways:
- Building national unity and pride through community involvement.
- Improving the capacity to attract private investment.
- Forming a better prepared workforce.
- Achieving a strong positioning or reposition of the brand of the host destination(s).
- Transforming a tourism destination.
The Summit pointed to one such mega-event, next year’s — Rugby World Cup in England, which is expected to attract 460,000 rugby fans from around the provide economic benefits of £2.5 billion for the UK.
On the other had, another “mega event,” the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Games, failed to boost tourism interest to Russia. The February Games were the most expensive ever, but were overshadowed by security fears, criticism of Russia’s new anti-gay laws and reports of a wave of homophobic attacks. The publicity also had a negative effect on Russia’s tourism opportunities, even before the onset of border turmoil with Ukraine.
World Travel Market, senior director, Simon Press said: “At an estimated £30bn, the Sochi Games were the most expensive Winter Olympics to date. Yet no amount of money could combat the negative publicity surrounding the Games and the Sochi experience clearly shows how closely linked sport, politics and tourism can be.”
And Press continued: “Major sporting events provide an incredible opportunity for a host city or country to showcase itself in a positive light to a global audience. In the case of the Sochi Winter Olympics, bad publicity and controversy created a lasting impression for all the wrong reasons. It remains to be seen whether Russia can move on and present a much more positive image when it holds the FIFA World Cup in four years’ time.”
Seen in the photo is UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai, who opened the summit.