ECONOMY

Benefits of Olympic Games will far exceed costs, Alpha Bank study says

The Olympic Games have had, and will continue to have, a favorable impact on the Greek economy, according to an Alpha Bank study released yesterday. Indeed, the study claims that most of the benefits are to occur in the future. Between 2000 and 2004, preparations for the Games added about 9 billion euros to Greece’s gross domestic product (GDP). According to Alpha’s research, the positive impact on the GDP from 2004 to 2008 could be as much as 16 billion euros. In 2003, Greece’s GDP was 163 billion. «The favorable impact from the Olympic Games will not stop being felt in 2008 or 2010 but will continue in subsequent years if Greek enterprises can exploit the immense advantages offered by this unique promotion of the country and its products on world markets,» the report said. With the total cost of the Olympics estimated at up to 10 billion euros, it is evident that the benefits accrued even before the Games have made up for the expenditure. Alpha’s research estimates the cost of the construction of Olympic venues and infrastructure projects directly related to the Olympics at 6 billion euros or 3.4 percent of Greece’s GDP. The benefits will strongly be felt in exports and the tourism sector. The study predicts that the average annual growth in exports from goods and services between 2004 and 2008 will range from between 4.5 and 5.5 percent, instead of at a pace of between 2.2 and 2.5 percent had Greece not staged the Olympics. Imports of goods and services will also grow at a faster pace but not fast enough to negate the gains. The study also estimates that the number of foreign visitors to Greece may reach 18-20 million by the end of the decade, from about 13 million currently. With the new infrastructure created for the Games and the upgrades to many hotels, as well as its numerous state-of-the-art venues, Greece can count on a great rise in convention tourism, as has happened in other cities which have staged major sports events.