When it comes to discussing expenditures related to the Olympics, the focus is typically on what countries are spending to fund their athletes. But what of consumer spending by nationality during the London 2012 Olympic Games?
According to Visa Inc., consumer spending by international travellers has contributed US$1.4 billion to the British tourism economy so far, with Olympic enthusiasts dropping a an estimated US$716.7 million on their credit card accounts during the week of July 30th to Aug.5 alone.
The global payments technology company ranked the top 10 contributing nations to the British economy during the Games. Frugal Canadians didn't throw all caution to the wind but we did rank among the top visiting nations. Canadian Visa account holders spent an estimated five per cent more on their accounts since the start of the Games. Interestingly though, Canadians spent less than visitors to London from other nations whose economies are on shaky ground.
Here's a rundown of which nations are spending the most at the Games this year:
1. U.S. — $91 million, 13 per cent of total spend
2. Japan -- $47.4 million, 7 per cent
3. France -- $44.5 million, 6 per cent
4. Italy -- $42.1 million, 6 per cent
5. Australia -- $35.3 million, 5 per cent
6. Ireland -- $34.3 million, 5 per cent
7. Spain -- $33.5 million, 5 per cent
8. Germany -- $33.3 million, 5 per cent
9. Canada -- $25.3 million, 4 per cent
10. Sweden -- $23.9 million, 3 per cent
In terms of what visitors to London are mostly spending their funds on, Visa cites "services" ($139.1 million), "entertainment" ($106.6 million), "airlines" ($82.4 million), and "clothing" ($67.9 million).
Generally, there's never a shortage of marketing hype surrounding any Olympics. But looking at past Olympic Games the reality is decidedly bleaker than the rose-tinted projections of economic cheerleaders like British Prime Minister David Cameron, who predicted last month the Olympics would bring an estimated US$20 billion into the UK's economy over the next four years.
Lest we forget, it took the City of Montreal 30 years to pay off its 1976 Olympic debts.
Consumer spending in Olympic host nations is difficult to predict. Looking back however, and according to the Canadian Sport Tourism Alliance, consumer spending in British Columbia jumped by 48 per cent during the Vancouver 2010 Winter Games.