London spent roughly $15 billion to host the 2012 Olympics, yet tourism didn't do as well as expected. In fact tourism in New York City, which lost the Olympic bid to London in 2005, was greater than the tourism numbers in London during the Olympic Games.
According to a study by Professor Mitchell L. Moss and Carson Qing of NYU's Rudin Center for Transportation Policy, New York beat London's tourist-per-day numbers by a score of 538,000 to 429,000 over the past two weeks. Even New York's 93 percent hotel occupancy was higher than London's 80 percent. Population wasn't much of a factor as both of the cities are around the same size.
With the Olympics in town, it was expected that the exciting Summer Games would boost tourism in London, however it seems to have had an opposite effect. Out of a possible fear of the crowds, many avoided the English host city.
Even London businesses lost out as nine out of 10 had 10 to 30 percent lower visitor numbers during the Games than compared to the same time last year.
Over the past two weeks, a majority of tourists that went to London went solely for the Games, while tourists visited New York for regular tourism purposes such as shopping, visiting landmarks and heading to museums and Broadway.
"London's 2012 Olympics have been a smashing success, with impressive athletic achievements and new athletes emerging on the worldstage," the authors said in their report. "But the huge numbers [of] visitors that watched the athletes compete came while thousands of visitors avoided London's theaters, museums, great shopping streets, and restaurants
The study noted that New York's museums and theaters also had greater tourist numbers than those in London over the past two weeks. New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art had 375,000 visitors over the two week period while London's British Museum had 286,000. Both cities have wonderful theater spaces, but 474,000 visited New York's theaters while only 375,000 checked out London's theater scene.
Despite losing the bid to host the Olympics, it seems like New York was better off without the Games.
"New York is so powerful that it doesn't need the Olympics to succeed. We continue to actually out-draw London without the games by more than 100,000 tourists a day. And what we did is we got the best of this," Professor Moss told CBS. "We got all the Olympic facilities, many of them, but we didn't have the city disrupted. We had the city flourish as a tourist mecca while London actually lost tourists during the Games."