Tue, 26 Sep 2000

Australia hopes for economic impact from Olympics: Official

SYDNEY (JP): The Olympic Games do not only bring gold medals to host country Australia but, more importantly, a cash windfall, an official said on Monday.

The Australian Trade Commission chief economist, Tim Harcourt, told a press briefing here that an estimated A$600 million, mostly from visitors, is expected to go into the state's coffer from hosting the quadrennial event.

"The benefits are not confined to the two weeks of the Games. The overall impact is estimated to add an additional A$6.5 billion to Australia's GDP over the 12 years from 1994 to 2006 with an additional 1.5 million tourists between 1998 and 2004.

"In the build-up to the Games, the construction projects were worth A$3.3 billion, providing an additional 7,500 jobs per year over the period," he said.

Another income is also expected from the sponsorship fees and broadcast rights. Reserve Bank estimates broadcast rights as being worth some A$1 billion.

"The direct income will definitely come from tourists and also sponsorship fees and broadcast rights. The indirect impact includes the job vacancies, especially during the construction of the sports venues which included scientists and architects," Harcourt said.

Australia aims to emulate Barcelona, the host of the previous Games in 1992, in attracting tourists even after the sporting festival was over, according to Harcourt.

A year after the Olympics, Barcelona remained a tourist destination for visitors, who wanted to see the venue of the world's greatest sports event.

"The Olympics is not just one big party. We hope that Australia will benefit from the event over the 12 years before, during and after. Visitors may decide to visit Australia because of the games and undertake a repeat visit after that," Harcourt said.

Games visitors spend more than the average overseas tourists, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics. Additional expenditure by overseas visitors will boost income in transportation and hospitality, Harcourt said.

Ticket sales have also contributed a large amount of income for the organizers. Tickets -- prices of which range from the cheapest at around A$20 for rowing, handball and wrestling to the most expensive of A$500 for sailing -- are estimated to contribute at least A$100 million to Australia's revenue.

Despite the high prices, it is difficult for spectators to buy tickets especially for favorite sports like athletics, swimming, tennis, basketball and baseball.

With an estimate 400,000 people pouring into Olympic Park at Homebush Bay, organizers also expect an increase in revenue from the sale of Olympic souvenirs.

The Olympic Superstore which sells souvenirs at the Park hit its sales target only in the 10th day after the opening ceremony on Sept. 15.

Madelaine Cohen from the Sydney Organizing Committee of the Olympic Games (SOCOG) said a total of A$30 million has so far been generated from the sales of Games products sold at the merchandise outlets situated at all official venues.

During the Games, visitors have been seen queuing outside the Superstore from the moment the doors open in the morning. Some of the more popular souvenirs include trio Syd-Millie-Ollie mascots, T-shirts, pins, keyholders, T-shirts, polo-shirts, ties and caps. (yan)