Euromonitor International Head of Travel and Tourism Research, Caroline Bremner, told senior travel industry delegates, at the event organized by Reed Travel Exhibition’s World Travel Market, the UK will welcome 29.4 million international visitors this year, a 2 percent increase on 2011, or 588,000.
The number of international visitors coming for London 2012 represents less than 1 percent of the total UK inbound market.
Bremner told WTM Vision Conference–London delegates that domestic visitors were crucial to the success of the games, saying that around 70 percent of the 8 million tickets sold had gone to British people.
Other speakers at the event backed Euromonitor International’s findings about the low number of international visitors. EasyJet UK Managing Director, Paul Simmons, said that the airline had seen “no significant impact on bookings" because of the Olympics and suggested that “BA would probably say the same."
Furthermore, London hotels appear to be missing out, according to the world's biggest online travel business. Expedia Managing Director UK, Andy Washington, said that worldwide bookings for flights into Manchester Airport during the 3 weeks of the Olympics are 40 percent ahead of the same period last year.
International bookings into Scottish airports are 31 percent higher.
“I can't say for sure that these people are staying in the regions and traveling into London to see the Games," he said, “but I can’t think of any other reason why the growth should be so big."
Washington admitted that London hotel prices during the games had been high thus far, but average daily rates were likely to come down as more rooms are released for tourists.
Hoseasons Group Managing Director, Geoff Cowley, said that his business was not able to comment, because it does not have any London-based product. But he said that Hoseasons has participated in the government-backed 20.12 percent promotion, because it wanted to be part of the legacy that domestic tourism would benefit from once the Games concluded.
TUI UK Managing Director, David Burling, said that “the inbound and outbound industries need to come together so that the authorities make sure the airports work."
Reed Travel Exhibitions Chairman World Travel Market, Fiona Jeffery, said: “With less than 100 days to go, the Olympics were likely to be discussed at WTM Vision Conference-London Vision. Euromonitor International's findings suggest that while the number of international visitors may appear modest, the real benefit of London 2012 could be the long-term boost to domestic tourism."