In July, more than 46,000 people attended the Visitor Information Centre, despite bad weather and the Olympics.
This summer, it was reported by Brighton & Hove council that visitor numbers to attractions such as the Royal Pavilion and city’s museums are up by more than 5% compared to last year, seeing an extra 10,000 people visit these attractions over the three month period.
There are conflicting opinions as to the effect though; a member of staff interviewed at The Pavilion said that business overall had been quieter this year than last. During the Olympics she said they had visitors on day trips from London, but that generally people just don’t have much money for travel. She added that it is often now cheaper to go abroad rather than to holiday in the UK.
When asked how tourism this year had been compared to last, Matthew Smith, 33, who works on Brighton Pier said: “what tourism? The Olympic games cripples a country”. He said they had noticed a gradual decline at the pier even before the recession, but that this year had reached an all time low.
Matthew’s opinion is backed up by Mark Perryman, author of ‘Why the Olympic Games Aren’t Good For Us, And How They Could Be’, and a lecturer at Brighton University. He says
“All evidence from previous Olympic Games shows that tourism decreases during the Olympics. So far it is too early to tell what the effect of the London Olympics has been, but anecdotal evidence suggests otherwise. “
He went on to say that there are two key reasons why:
“Firstly tourists considering visiting London, the last time you would come would be during the Olympics. You can’t get a hotel room and if you can the prices would be stratospheric. Secondly, those that do come are not going to spend time eating out, going to the theatre, or going to museums.
“If they are so passionate about sport, anytime they are not at the Olympics, they will be watching it on TV. They are even less likely to be going for a weekend trip to Brighton when they are caught up in the Olympic hype. “
He also explained that these facts have been spelt out in regards to previous Olympics.
“I got my information from travel industry websites and trade organisations; they are the last people who have any reason to be anti-Olympics.”
Official figures are not all bad though, and Chair of the economic development & culture committee, Councillor Geoffrey Bowden, said: “We think good marketing, good products and the lure of special exhibits are helping keep attractions fresh and interesting. It’s heartening to see that we’re still able to pull in the crowds come rain or shine.”