SEQ should look to Tokyo plan for long-term benefits

Queensland can take tips from Tokyo in how to turn an Olympic Games bid into tourism gold.

Previous Games have delivered mixed results when it comes to leveraging the world's attention into attracting visitors.

And experts say the secrets are: Start early and have a plan to continue cashing in for years after the closing ceremony.

Simon Kuestenmacher, co-founder and director of research at The Demographics Group, says Japan offers some good pointers.

 

Miraitowa, the official mascot of the 2020 Summer Olympics, holds a torch during an event to unveil the Olympics torch relay route in Tokyo. Picture: Shinji Kita/Kyodo News via AP
Miraitowa, the official mascot of the 2020 Summer Olympics, holds a torch during an event to unveil the Olympics torch relay route in Tokyo. Picture: Shinji Kita/Kyodo News via AP

 

Following Tokyo's successful Olympic bid in 2013, Japan's tourism strategy has been tied to next year's Games.

Starting from a low of 10 million - the country still feeling the visitation impacts of the 2011 earthquake - the Japan National Tourism organisation set a 2020 target of 40 million inbound tourists. By 2017, they had reached 28.5 million and are well on track.

Trips to regional areas quadrupled during that time.

"Post Olympics, JNTO plan to increase inbound tourism to 60 million by 2030, capitalising on the momentum leading up to the games and the additional exposure of the Games," says Mr Kuestenmacher.

 

Now chairman of The Star Entertainment Group, John O'Neill was tasked with assessing the success of the Sydney 2000 Games when appointed head of the newly-formed Events NSW in 2007.

The pros were manifold in attracting attention in the build-up and "in every way the Sydney Olympics were the best ever".

"But one of the lessons which is vital is that the event is not the end, it is the beginning. The view in Sydney was we hosted the Olympics - build it and they will come. But they didn't."

Mr O'Neill contrasted it with Barcelona in 1992. "They had the Olympics and then they took Barcelona to the world … it was the catalyst for investment and further events and tourism growth.

"Yes, you can have a massive event like the Olympics in SEQ but it's where it takes you afterwards that matters."

One bright spot in the wake of Sydney was hosting the Rugby World Cup over a six-week period. That was the sort of event SEQ could target, Mr O'Neill said.

 

One of the success stories to emerge from Sydney refocusing on events was the annual Vivid Festival, launched in 2009, which now draws up to three million visitors.

The lesson from London 2012 was that the Olympics could actually harm tourism.

"They frightened away regular tourists by driving up accommodation prices. Saturated transport systems and overcrowding as it was held in the middle of the high tourist season.

"It resulted in a loss of 750,000 tourists in peak month-August, which was only partially compensated by the 500,000 Olympic Games spectators attending the events.

"During summer 2012, hotels, restaurants and cultural sites in London saw their activity fall by nearly 40 per cent."

Games-related promotional activity was credited with generating an extra 3.5 million tourist visits to the UK in the following four years, however, according to the feasibility report prepared by consultants Lagardiere/EKS for the SEQ Council of Mayors.

Beijing reported a 29 per cent lift in tourism in the year after hosting the 2008 Games.



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