UK discusses Olympic tourism

UK Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell cited the 2012 Olympics as a “unique opportunity” for tourism, as she launched the widest ever consultation of the industry. The consultation aims to get the views of everyone from small B&B owners and local authority support staff, to big hotel chains and public sector organisations at national and regional levels. It seeks new and innovative ideas for maximising the potential benefits to tourism of the 2012 Olympic Games and Paralympic Games.

In particular it aims to ensure that:

* Tourism’s interests are fully represented in all decision-making about the Games.

* The UK - and its nations, regions and cities - can market itself effectively to international and domestic audiences.

* The quality of UK tourism, and the skills of the people who work in it, are of the highest standard.


It is estimated that between 50 and 75 per cent of the economic gains of the Games will benefit tourism - and early projections put that at up to GBP2 billion.

Ms Jowell said:

“Tourism is one of our biggest industries. And the Olympics are the biggest sporting event in the world.

“Put them together and you’ve got a unique opportunity to take our tourism industry to the next level.

“But we can’t do this alone. I want everyone that works in tourism at every level to tell us what we can all do to ensure that we reap every conceivable benefit of hosting the Games.

“Athens, Sydney and Atlanta have already shown what holding the Games can do for tourism. With the right planning, I hope we can better even their impressive records and deliver real long-term benefits.”

The consultation is being spearheaded by a document entitled Welcome ==> Legacy, published today.

It suggests options for fully exploiting the benefits of the Olympics including:

* New links between tourism and the arts, media, and all other sectors which will contribute to making 2012 a success. This could include specially themed marketing in the run-up to the Games, highlighting individual aspects of what the UK has to offer - including culture, heritage, landscape and diversity.

* Improving the quality of the personal welcome afforded to visitors by offering people on the front line, such as taxi drivers, the incentives and necessary support to act as effective “Olympic ambassadors.”

* Using new technologies, such as pod casting and mobile telephone guides, to promote and market tourism.

* Making the most of the River Thames during the Games, both for transport and as a venue for celebratory events.

The document sets out 21 questions for consultees to respond to. They focus on five key areas:

* Getting tourism’s Games structures right - including ensuring that the industry’s own 2012 marketing strategy is as effective as possible.

* Positioning the UK as a truly world class destination - including ensuring that overseas marketing gets across the huge range of tourism opportunities available in the UK.

* Improving the quality of our welcome - including looking at how the quality of tourist accommodation can be improved through grading schemes.

* Making the links between tourism and the wider 2012 effort - for example, making the most of Liverpool Capital of Culture 2008.

* Setting ambitious and stretching targets for the industry.

VisitBritain Chairman Lord Marshall said:

“We urge every part of the industry to take this opportunity to suggest ways that Britain’s Games could help us reinvigorate Britain’s image, attract other business and sporting events, accelerate improvements in skills, quality and accessibility, and place tourism firmly on the national agenda.

“The Olympic and Paralympic Games are a long-term investment in the future of Britain’s visitor economy. By planning for this decade of opportunity, we can deliver an Olympic Games that will surpass the success of previous host countries and ensure that Britain is ready to welcome the world.”

Visit London Chief Executive James Bidwell said:

“The Games provide us with a once in a generation catalyst to accelerate London’s positioning as a leading global city.

“As part of our gateway role, Visit London is working with partners to ensure that we leverage all opportunities to bring benefit to the city, the industry and the UK economy. If the Games succeed London will succeed, and if London succeeds the rest of Britain will succeed.”

To fit the scale of the Games opportunity, DCMS is looking for the biggest-ever response to a tourism consultation. Welcome==> Legacy will be distributed very widely across the tourism and other sectors, along with up to 250,000 information leaflets for individual businesses and other organisations.