The London 2012 Olympic Games took place from 27 July to 12 August 2012 and the Paralympics from 29 August to 9 September. This event was of global interest and ONS has addressed the question of how many people visited the UK for the Games.
This is done through analysis of data from the International Passenger Survey (IPS) which had its sample boosted (58.2 Kb Pdf) in this period.
685,000 Olympics/Paralympics-related visits to the UK during July to September
Between July and September 685,000 overseas residents completed a visit to the UK, either
primarily for an Olympics/Paralympics-related purpose (watching, working or participating), (470,000 visits), or
primarily for another purpose but they went to a ticketed London 2012 event (215,000 visits).
Approximately three-quarters of these visits were completed in August with the remainder split equally between July and September.
Most visits were from Europe
411,000 of the 685,000 visits were made by people living in Europe, while 127,000 were from North America and 145,000 from other countries.
The country providing most visits was the USA, followed by France, Germany and the Netherlands. Outside of Europe and North America, residents of Australia made 32,000 Olympics-based visits and residents of Brazil, which will host the 2016 Olympic Games, made 13,000 visits.
Olympics visitors were high spenders
Those people who visited the UK primarily for an Olympics/Paralympics-based purpose spent an average of £1,510 on their visit, double the spending of people who visited for other purposes.
This higher spend was not driven by length of stay: these people stayed an average of 8 nights in the UK compared with an average of 9 nights among all visitors.
London received a boost in earnings; Scotland and Wales didn’t
Most of the Olympics and Paralympics activities took place in the South East of England and a pertinent question is how visits and earnings varied between different regions of the UK. The details provided below relate to the period July to September 2012.
363,000 (77%) of the 470,000 visitors to the UK primarily for an Olympics/Paralympics-based purpose stayed at least one night in London.
However, some other people avoided staying in the capital. The total number of visits that involved an overnight stay in London (for any purpose) were 6% lower than in the same period in 2011.
Despite this overall fall in overnight visits, the high spend among Olympics visitors contributed to an increase of 11% (£316 million) in earnings associated with overnight visits to London.
Rest of England
97,000 of the 470,000 Olympics/Paralympics visits involved an overnight stay in the rest of England. A proportion (the exact number is unknown) of these visitors will have spent the main part of the visit, and the majority of their budget, in London.
Total visits to the rest of England were 3% lower than in the same period a year earlier.
Earnings from these visits grew by 4%.
8,000 of the Olympics/Paralympics visits involved an overnight stay in Scotland.
Total visits to Scotland were 12% lower than in the same period a year earlier.
Earnings from these visits were 9% lower.
7,000 of the Olympics/Paralympics visits involved an overnight stay in Wales.
Total visits to Wales were 8% higher than in the same period a year earlier.
Earnings from these visits were 1% lower.
Helping to understand the Games’ legacy
The International Passenger Survey publishes estimates of visits (and associated spending) to and from the UK each month, and detailed regional breakdowns including nights spent and profile of visits every quarter. These estimates will provide readers with important data to help understand how travel and tourism to the UK develops in the months and years following the Games.
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