As the London Olympics 2012 gets underway, London’s streets are buzzing as thousands of tourists have descended into the capital, to cheer on their teams and enjoy the party atmosphere.
Over the Olympic period, 600,000 international spectators, 22,000 media and around 6,000 members of the Olympic and Paralympic family are expected in London for the Games.
Events will be taking place in iconic sporting venues such as Wimbledon and Wembley, while others will be taking place in the historic sites including Hyde Park, Greenwich, Horse Guard’s Parade near Buckingham Palace and Windsor. There will also be a host of events in the newly built, sustainable Olympic Park.
England’s first ever World Heritage site was awarded to the Jurassic Coast which will set the scene for the Olympic sailing at Weymouth.
The football tournament will see national stadiums from Cardiff, Glasgow and Manchester used which will highlight some of the UK’s most popular tourist destinations.
Approximately 4 billion viewers are expected to tune into the Olympics via television during the Games period.
Visit Britain hopes to use the Games as a platform to reach new growth markets in Asia and Latin America while revitalising the destination’s appeal in core markets such as Europe and the US.
John Penrose told BTN about his expectations for the event: “First and foremost I want to see a magnificent sporting spectacle taking place at all the venues across the country, and for all the visitors that come here to see it to go away with nothing but great memories.
“I also very much hope that those around the world watching it on television will get a flavour of what the UK is like in the 21st century.
He added: “We have an enormous amount to offer visitors and, with any luck, we’ll be able to showcase what we do best to a huge audience, many of whom we hope will want to come here and see it for themselves in years to come.”
According to the European Tour Operators Association (ETOA), London is on track to break previous Olympic visitor records.
Tom Jenkins, Executive Director of the European Tour Operators Association (ETOA) said: “It is important to emphasise how well London is doing compared with other Olympic Games, and what good news there is for potential visitors.”
Although hard figures are difficult to come by, according to the ETOA, London hotels are being occupied by more than 60,000 foreign guests per night during the games.
ETOA revealed that Sydney had about 25,000, Athens 13,000 and Beijing 27,000 per night. This equates to more than 45,000 hotel rooms: more than three times the total bed-stock of Athens.
Jenkins continued, “This is below what would normally be expected. London would anticipate more than 300,000 foreign visitors a day in August, the vast majority of them staying in hotels. But early August in London is not normal: judged against previous Olympics, this is a major achievement.”