55% of foreign visitors back London

More foreign visitors want to see the 2012 Olympic Games & Paralympic Games hosted in London than in any of the other competing cities, according to BAA’s ‘Why London?’ Survey.

On the day that a 16 member Evaluation Commission from the International Olympic Committee arrive in London to evaluate the capital’s Bid, BAA released the results of a survey which found that 55% of respondents thought London would be best to host the world’s greatest sporting event, with Paris trailing in third place on just 12%.

Nearly 600 people were interviewed for the BAA ‘Why London’ Survey in January 2005 and asked a range of questions about where they thought the 2012 Olympic Games & Paralympic Games should be held and why, including their general impressions of London.  Interviews were conducted with foreign visitors leaving from BAA’s three London airports – Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted. 

An impressive 81% rated the capital’s public transport as excellent or good, a result which demolishes the perception that public transport is a weakness of London’s Bid.

The whole London experience was rated highly with almost all categories obtaining more than 70% Excellent or Good responses:

When asked to rate certain aspects of the city, 91% of respondents rated the Capital’s culture as Excellent or Good – the top answer behind variety of things to do (94%)
83% of respondents rated safety and security as Excellent or Good.
Friendliness of people attracted a high score of 81% Excellent or Good. 
Support amongst the general public of the competing cities is crucial to a successful Bid, and yet the BAA ‘Why London?’ Survey found that 42% of French nationals were against the Games being held in Paris, 50% of whom actually came out in support of London.  Amongst Americans, for every one person who backs New York’s Bid (22%), two and a half back London’s (54%). 

Mick Temple, Managing Director of BAA Heathrow said: “The BAA ‘Why London?’ survey shows the Capital is the clear favourite amongst international travellers passing through Heathrow. Our survey shows that no other competing city has as much support as London, and that when a visit to the capital is on offer, alongside the chance to see the Olympic Games, London is a winning combination.”

When travellers were asked to indicate what they disliked about London, 17% said there was nothing to dislike, whilst 20% confirmed other findings which indicate London is an expensive city.  Despite perceptions, less than one in ten cited the weather as a dislike!

Mick Temple continued: “Access from BAA’s south-east airports to London scored very well with 86% rating it as excellent or good.  Heathrow, Stansted and Gatwick

airports serve an impressive 83 countries direct, making a successful London Bid even easier for foreign visitors to travel to.  London really is the gateway to the world.”

Notes to Editor:

The Survey

Research was commissioned amongst foreign nationals departing out of one of the three South East BAA Airports in January 2005.  All respondents had stayed in London on this, or a previous trip in the last 12 months, The respondents were asked to give ratings for various aspects of London including accommodation, shopping, value for money and public transport. They were also asked their opinions on which city they felt would be best to host the 2012 Olympic & Paralympic Games and why. Responses were received from 576 passengers in total.

The Market Research Department

The research was carried out by the BAA Market Research Team, who have been involved in both internal and external research projects for over 20 years. The team includes 18 office based staff who provide project management, questionnaire design and analytical skills, many of whom are members of the Market Research Society (MRS). They are supported by an in-house coding and data entry team and a 145-strong field force team based across all seven UK airports. All research carried out adheres to the MRS Code of Conduct.

Survey responses:

What is the main reason for your trip today?

81% pleasure, 19% business

Which of these cities do you think would be best to host the 2012 Olympics?

London, New York, Madrid, Moscow and Paris?

London 55%, Madrid 13%, Paris 12%, New York 9%, Moscow 7%

On average, how many trips do you make to London in 12 months?

One – 51%, Two – 17%, Three – 10%, Four – 5%, Five – 5%, Six to Ten – 6%, Eleven or more – 4%, Other – 2%

What is your favourite aspect of London?

Museums, art galleries, culture, history and architecture – 27%

Entertainment/Theatre/Cinema/Concerts/Nightlife/West End/Clubs –13%

Shops/Sales/Markets – 11%

What is your most disliked aspect of London?

Expensive (20%)

Nothing (17%)

Crowding (10%)

Weather (9%)

How would you rate the following aspects of the city?

Public Transport

Excellent – 32%, Good – 49%, Average 12%, Poor – 3%, Extremely poor – 1%


Excellent – 16%, Good – 43%, Average – 18%, Poor – 6%, Don’t know – 17%


Excellent – 39%, Good – 41%, Average – 12%, Poor – 2%, Don’t know – 6%

Eating Out

Excellent – 25%, Good – 47%, Average – 20%, Poor – 5%, Extremely poor – 1%, Don’t know – 2%


Excellent – 45%, Good – 41%, Average – 6%, Don’t know – 8%

Variety of things to do

Excellent – 61%, Good – 33%, Average – 4%, Don’t know – 2%

Value for Money

Excellent – 2%, Good – 26%, Average – 40%, Poor – 27%, Extremely poor – 4%, Don’t know – 1%


Excellent – 48%, Good – 43%, Average – 7%, Don’t know – 2%

Safety & Security

Excellent – 26%, Good – 57%, Average – 13%, Poor – 3%, Don’t know – 1%

Friendliness of people

Excellent – 31%, Good – 50%, Average – 16%, Poor – 3%


Excellent – 33%, Good – 53%, Average – 11%, Poor – 2%, Don’t know – 2%

For further information please contact Vanessa Finneran on 020 8745 5593 or 07909 883512