Olympic-sized Crowds at the Theater?
Apparently, London’s theaters (or shall I say, “theatres”) are expecting fewer patrons to follow the yellow brick road next summer when the Olympics are in town. According to the UK’s Guardian,
The Really Useful Group, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s production company, is reportedly considering closing West End shows including The Phantom of the Opera and The Wizard of Oz, with tourist bookings predicted to slide in July and August.
The European Tour Operations Association (ETOA) has announced that its members are facing a 95% decrease on London bookings for the period, while the managing director of Encore Tickets, John Wales, said the company was bracing itself for “sales from tourists to be at least 40 per cent down on last year”.
This comes as no surprise to sports economists. One reason we frequently cite when arguing that the economic impact of mega-events is lower than advertised is the “crowding out effect.” While London will no doubt be overrun with Olympics tourists next summer, normally London is overrun with all sorts of other tourists in the summer including musical patrons. Sports fans don’t add to the tourist base, but instead they simply displace other visitors leading to lower than expected increases in net tourism. Unfortunately, cities all too often fall for the song and dance routine of sports boosters claiming big economic benefits for host cities.
*Thanks to my colleague Melissa Boyle for pointing out the original article.