2016 Summer Olympics and the Power of Events

Olympics and Tourism
POSTED BY Illinois Governor's Conference on Travel & Tourism
Posted in Uncategorized Blog

The United States might be making its regular splash in the 2016 Summer Olympics, but Illinois is leaving a nice footprint in the Rio-sand as well.

According to the Chicago Tribune, some 50 athletes connected to Illinois are competing in the Olympic games this summer, the majority representing Team USA.

From Jimmy Butler, the 6-foot-7 Bulls draft pick who scored 7 points in the US Men’s Basketball win against Argentina Wednesday night, to Lauren Doyle, the 2009 Macon Meridian grad competing on the US Women’s Sevens Rugby team, who played in the 19-5 win against France on Aug. 8 – Illinois is making its presence known.

But what impact can large-scale events have on tourism? Let’s take a look at a few quick facts from recent Olympic games.

The Olympics & Tourism

Rio de Janeiro became one of the most visited cities during the recent World Cup with a dizzying 886,000 guests spending roughly EUR 1.5 billion.  Trekk Soft

On the heels of that World Cup success, Rio expects a minimum 380,000 foreign tourists during the Olympic games. Besides enjoying world-class sporting events, guests are expected to visit and spend at a variety of local stops, from monuments and carnivals to sprawling natural attractions. Tourism Review

Inspired by the convenient information services available at the 2012 Olympics in London, Rio tourism representatives also planned to improve facilities and services to provide better experiences and more effectively cater to the influx of international visitors.

Sochi has also been enjoying increased winter traffic after a successful presentation at the 2014 Winter Olympics. Though long regarded as one of Russia’s most popular summer destinations, Winter travel is quickly closing the gap. As many as 182,000 visitors ascended the mountains during a 10-day period over New Years. Olympic.org

“In the past, we used to have that many tourists only in summer, in August,” explained Sochi Mayor Anatoly Pakhomov.

Sochi is also primed to become Russia’s most significant conference destination thanks to new facilities and hotel rooms created as a result of the 2014 Olympic games.

What We Can Learn

With these quick facts in mind, using your destination to host major events is a great way to increase foot-traffic and positive word-of-mouth surrounding your destination. But what if things don’t go quite so swimmingly? It remains to be seen how bad-publicity from crime and water issues will affect perception of Rio de Janeiro as a destination, but it offers a sobering reminder to tourism professionals. Whether we’re expecting 3 visitors or 3 million, we must constantly strive to provide one-of-a-kind, convenient and wholly positive experiences for our guests.

If you’re a CVB, hotelier, restaurant or valued attraction, how can the Rio Olympics inspire YOU to provide a better tourism experience for your guests?