Olympic Success Leading to a Tourism Boom in Some Countries
PHOTO: Kingston, Jamaica. Following Usain Bolt's enormous success in the Rio Olympics, the island nation has seen a surge of interest. (Photo courtesy of Thinkstock)
Rio de Janeiro hopes to get a tourism boost after hosting the Olympics, but it is not the only place looking to cash in on interest in the Games. Other countries seem to be generating a great deal of tourism business because of the recent performances of their athletes.
Success in the Olympics leads to success in tourism
Searches were up for travel to two of the countries that topped the medal-winning rankings. According to data from UK-based online travel agency Travel Republic, searches and bookings for travel to both the United States and China were up during the Games. The biggest winner of the Olympics, however, as far as tourism interest, was Jamaica.
During the two-and-a-half weeks of Rio ‘16, bookings on Travel Republic for trips to China rose by 160 percent. Jamaica saw a 170 percent rise in the number of bookings and the United States a more modest 17 percent spike in vacations purchased.
Travel Republic is a British OTA, but the idea can be applied globally: maintaining a high profile in an event that is watched worldwide can really help gain attention for your country as a tourism destination.
Jamaica cashing in on Bolt’s success
Jamaica is well aware of the spike in interest brought on by Olympic success. Sprinter Usain Bolt was featured in a worldwide tourism ad campaign launched by Jamaica after he won three gold medals during the 2012 Olympics. The country also has a special organization, called Jamaica Sport, that promotes sports tourism in the country.
Now that Bolt has announced his retirement from Olympic competition, the country will have to find someone else to be the face of its sports-inspired tourism efforts.
The extra interest from tourists shows that countries can get a return on the investment that they put into training programs for Olympic athletes because success at the Games can lead directly to an increase in tourism revenue.
Already ready for the next Olympics
Then there is Japan, which will host the next summer Olympics in 2020 in Tokyo. The country is already reorganizing its airports and making other changes in order to prep for its hosting duties. The upgraded tourism infrastructure may be tested well before the first gold medal is won four years from now.
Japan's athletes enjoyed a modest amount of success in Rio, but it saw a 77 percent increase in the number of bookings on Travel Republic. Perhaps this was due to the fact that people were interested in Rio because of the Olympic coverage but realized that it was probably too late to go there for the event. The site of the next Summer Games, Tokyo, was the most logical alternative.
A model for changing gold medals into tourist dollars
So Olympic wins can lead to tourism success. Jamaica seems to have been able to use their success at the Games to boost tourism interest. Other small countries could use this promotional model by using the most successful and recognizable athletes from their teams to help promote tourism.
This can help them get a tourism boost from the Olympics without having to invest billions in actually hosting the Games.
More by Josh Lew
Get Travel Deals and Travel News
Recent Travel Opinions
Cruise Line & Cruise Ship
Airlines & Airports