The dampening effect the games have on host-city—and host-nation—tourism in the periods before and after the big event (not to mention the shut-down-city effect during) has been cited by numerous observers. Officials at Atlanta's Fernbank Museum of Natural History and the Atlanta Botanical Garden, for example, say they had significant declines in attendance for 1996, the year of the Atlanta games. The slump is usually presented as a bump in the road to the gloriously increased tourism that's sure to be the games' lasting legacy. But some of the folks who study this stuff, including Mark Rosentraub, a professor of sport management at the University of Michigan, call that a fantasy. Rosentraub says the Olympics is "a good thing to do" if you manage it properly and don't build a lot of infrastructure. But it's not going to have a long-term impact on the host city's economy, and "there's no evidence that it results in a sustained increase in tourism."
A fascinating read on this subject is the Olympic Report [PDF] by the European Tour Operators Association (2006, updated in 2008), which came to the conclusion that "there appears to be little evidence of any benefit to tourism of hosting an Olympic Games, and considerable evidence of damage."
Read the whole thing.
[HT: The Dutchman]