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Beyond Intermezzo? On the Long-Term Industrial Impacts of Mega-Events: The Case of Lillehammer 1994

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This article focuses on the long-term industrial impacts of the Winter Olympics organized in Lillehammer in 1994. Three types of impacts related to the mega-event are outlined: 1) intermezzo, 2) permanent lift of industrial activity to a new plateau, and 3) change of long-term growth rate. After discussing methodological issues related to this kind of study, data covering various aspects of the development in the region of Lillehammer are presented. The industrial impacts of the Olympics may be characterized as an intermezzo: most economic activity occurred before, during, and a short time after the games, and most sectors were back to normal level of activity shortly after the games. In some areas, however, long-term impacts may be observed, and this is mainly due to the development of an improved infrastructure, new sports facilities, new tourist attractions, and a significant expansion of the hotel industry. The region has developed as a significant center for events. Three tourist destinations, among them Lillehammer itself, have for some years experienced a growth significantly above the national average, but this growth seemed to culminate during 1997. There has also been a significant population growth in the city of Lillehammer, which partly is interpreted as an impact of the Winter Olympics. However, this impact also seemed to culminate in 1997. According to a rough estimate, there has been a long-term employment effect of around 400-500 full-time equivalents. The tourism industry has contributed most to this growth, but some employment effect has occurred in other sectors as well. However, in contrast to what was originally expected, little new dynamism has been created in the region. To a large extent the growth in Lillehammer is based on reallocation of resources within the country, and only marginal contributions have been given to national growth. Thus, the long-term impacts are very marginal and out of proportion compared to the huge costs of hosting the Games.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: September 1, 1998

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