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Tuesday, 26 August 2008

VisitBritain and London Welcome the World as next host of Summer Olympic Games

The UK’s national tourism agency, VisitBritain, and Visit London, the capital’s tourist board, unveil their plans to welcome the world as the host nation and city of the next Olympic Games and Paralympic Games in 2012.

The news comes following Sunday’s official handover ceremony, which marked the start of Britain’s four-year Cultural Olympiad, celebrating the best of the nation’s culture, and the opportunity to present Britain’s appeals to a global audience. For VisitBritain, the handover marked the first stage in its strategy to spread the economic benefits of the Olympic Games throughout the UK and raise the profile and awareness of Britain as a leading tourist destination.

VisitBritain chairman, Christopher Rodrigues said: “This weekend started a four-year, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to position a dynamic, vibrant and welcoming Britain as the best destination in the world. We will remind the nations of the world that Britain is the birthplace of the modern Olympic and Paralympic Games, as well as sports like rugby, cricket and tennis. We will take the passion that Britain and its visitors hold for football, for sporting events like the Grand National, Wimbledon, the Henley Regatta, the London Marathon and the Great North Run, Wales’ National Eisteddfod and the Braemar Highland Games to reinforce a vibrant image of Britain that appeals to tomorrow’s travellers.”

Now that the world’s attention moves from China to Britain, VisitBritain’s global network of offices will promote the nation as the place for watching and participating in sport at all levels, for events and for experiences, attractions and destinations with a unique blend of historical and contemporary culture. Thanks to the Olympic Games in 2012, Britain’s visitor economy could benefit to the tune of an extra £2 billion.

Destinations, venues and local economies around the UK could be set to benefit from hosting Pre-Games Training Camps following the publication of the official online Guide developed by the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) and VisitBritain. The Guide showcases the quality and variety of more than 600 sporting venues and facilities to National Olympic Committees from all over the world, as well as representatives from International Sports Federations.

According to recent VisitBritain research, more than a fifth (22%) of potential visitors strongly agree that they are more likely to want to visit Britain in the next few years because London will host the 2012 Olympics. Tourism gains are expected to come largely from emerging markets inspired by increased media exposure and publicity associated with the Games. Indeed, hosting the Games makes Britain particularly appealing for emerging markets China, India, Malaysia, Mexico and South Korea.

One in ten visits to the UK from overseas – 4.7 million and 14 per cent of the total – involve watching a sporting event or taking part in sporting activities. Although they travel from the other side of the world, visitors from Australia and New Zealand live up to their reputation as ‘sports mad’ with 28 per cent of New Zealanders and 25 per cent of Australians watching or participating during their stay. Sport is also a way of attracting the attention of visitors from emerging markets where year on year growth often exceeds that from more mature economies. 16 per cent of Brazilians, 15 per cent of Malaysian, 14 per cent of Czech and 13 per cent of Russian visits involve sport – all higher percentages than the French, Germans, Japanese and Italians.

Christopher Rodrigues continued: “Britain is a sporting nation: our reputation has been earned in part by the popularity of our world-renowned events, as well as experiences, accommodation and attractions at destinations in every nation and region. Britain’s Olympic Games in 2012 – and the four years leading to it – are a wonderful opportunity for us to present the character and assets of our destinations and experiences to the world.”

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