Tourists -- and their currency -- join Olympic boycott
Moscow — A sharp drop in the number of Western and Japanese tourists coming to Moscow for the Olympic Games means a loss for the Soviets of more than $150 million in precious hard currency, according to figures compiled by Western sources here.
"The US boycott movement has not only stopped 60 or so countries competing here, but has drastically cut the number of tourists from boycotting and nonboycotting countries alike," according to one closely informed Western diplomatic source.
The United States, Japan, Canada, and West Germany (all boycotters), plus Italy, Australia, the United Kingdom, and France (all coming to Moscow) among them were expected to send a total of 112,000 tourists.
Now, however, according to a Monitor minisurvey, that estimate has been cut to only 19,700 tourists from these countries, a drop of 92,300. Western sources expect only 35,000 Westerners and Japanese here throughout the games, including athletes and officials -- a far cry from the 125,000 tourists alone predicted by Moscow before Soviet troops moved into Afghanistan six months ago.
Sources say on average each tourist from the eight countries would have spent or $184.6 million.
Deducted from this should be money paid in advance for package tours by tourists who then canceled. This adds up to $16 million in the US alone. The Soviets have suggested arbitration procedures to determine if they should make refunds.Hopes for eventual recovery are not high.
But added to the overall loss must be an unknown but substantial sum covering what the 92,300 would have paid for games tickets, souvenirs, and incidentals.
Here is a breakdown of the tourist figures:
The US expected 30,000 but only about 2,000 will come instead. Japan has gone from 12,000 to 3,000; Italy from 18,000 to 5,000; Canada from 8,000 to 300; Australia from 4,500 to 400.
West Germany has gone from 12,000 to about 2,500; the UK from 7,500 to 2,000; and France from 20,000 to about 4,500.
Not included in the survey is Scandinavia and the Low Countries in Western Europe. Most report fewer tourists.
Figures from Soviet sources have been confusing. Originally they said a total of 300,000 tourists from abroad would come. Official figures now cut that to 200,000. Some 40 percent of those are supposed to be from Western countries -- 80,000 in all. But Western sources say it is virtually impossible that as many as 80,000 will come . . . and Soviet officials suggest that the shortfall will be made up by Indian and other third-world tourists.
The latter do not pay in the hard currency Moscow badly needs to buy grain and technology abroad.