The 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Games failed to deliver in terms of tourism interest to Russia, reveals the World Travel Market 2014 Industry Report, released today (Monday 3 November).
The Sochi Games, held in February 2014, cost £30bn – making them the most expensive to date. Yet the event was overshadowed by security fears, criticism of Russia’s new anti-gay laws and reports of a wave of homophobic attacks.
The international outcry was so intense that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has now introduced a specific anti-discrimination clause to its host city contract for prospective bidders for the 2022 Winter Olympics and beyond.
The publicity also had a negative effect on Russia’s tourism opportunities, according to the World Travel Market 2014 Industry Report.
Just 37% of senior industry executives interviewed for the report said they expected an increase in bookings to the region on the back of the Sochi Games, with only 11% saying they would commit ‘a lot more’ extra capacity.
The figures are disappointing, when compared to the 69% of senior industry executives who said they expected an increase in bookings for Rio de Janeiro/Brazil following the 2014 FIFA World Cup and 64% expecting to see an increase in bookings to Glasgow on the back of a successful Commonwealth Games, widely credited with showcasing the host city and Scotland as a whole in a hugely positive light.
Russia does, however, have another chance to showcase itself in a more positive way when it hosts the FIFA World Cup in four years’ time. Two thirds of top industry executives (65%) think tourists will travel to the country when it holds the World Cup in 2018.
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.
“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.”
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About World Travel Market
World Travel Market, the leading global event for the travel industry, is the must-attend four-day business-to-business exhibition for the worldwide travel and tourism industry.
More than 50,000 senior travel industry professionals, government ministers and international press, embark on ExCeL – London every November to network, negotiate and discover the latest industry opinion and trends at WTM.
WTM, now in its 35th year, is the event where the travel industry conducts and concludes its deals.
WTM 2013 generated more than £2 billion of travel industry contracts, revealed independent research by Fusion Communications.
WTM is owned by the world’s leading events organiser Reed Exhibitions (RE), which organises a other portfolio’s of travel industry events including IBTM Events, the world’s leading showcases for the meetings and events industry and International Luxury Travel Market events.
In 2013, RE held more than 500 events in 40 countries bringing together more than six million people from around the world generating billions of dollars in business.
Reed Travel Exhibitions (RTE) is the world’s leading provider of exhibitions in the travel and tourism industry, with a wide-ranging portfolio of 21 international events in 14 countries throughout the Americas, Europe, the Middle East, Asia Pacific and Africa.
Its market-leading, business-to-business events cover all elements of travel and tourism, including leisure travel, luxury travel, meetings, events, incentives and business travel, as well as golf, ski and spa travel.
RTE is part of Reed Exhibitions.