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British image transformed by London 2012

British image transformed by London 2012

Research by the British Council suggests the UK’s big events of the past year – including the Olympics, Paralympics and Jubilee – have improved the its reputation overseas and created substantial new interest in the country as a place to visit, study and do business.

The research was carried out for the British Council by Ipsos MORI among 8,000 adults in 11 key overseas economies – including the US, China, India and Russia.

It was commissioned as part of the British Council’s work to build relationships for the UK around the world through education, the English language and the arts.

The London 2012 Games have had a major overseas impact – with almost two thirds saying the UK did a good job at organising the Olympics (compared with only six per cent who disagree), and 44 per cent believing that the UK has a greater influence over world affairs as a result (with only three per cent taking a negative view).

More than one person in three said the 2012 Games have made them more likely to visit the UK – and more than one person in three said the Games have made the UK more attractive to them as a place to do business or study.

Fewer than 18 per cent said the Olympics have not made them any more likely to want to visit, study or do business in the UK.

More than half of people questioned said the Olympics and Paralympics have made them think more positively about how the UK views disability (56 per cent), the UK’s sporting prowess (52 per cent), the UK’s arts scene (54 per cent), and how friendly the people of the UK are (52 per cent).

Almost half said the Games have made them think more positively about the UK’s sense of humour (46 per cent).

In all cases, no more than five per cent said the Games have had a negative effect on these views.

The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee also contributed to improved perceptions of the UK on a smaller scale.

More than a quarter of people questioned (27 per cent) said they had experienced or been aware of the Jubilee in some form – and, of those, 31 per cent said they think more positively about the UK as a result, with only three per cent saying that it has had a negative effect on their perceptions of the UK.

John Worne, director of strategy, British Council, said: “To know us is to love us and this year the UK has got everything right in turning some great national moments into global celebrations of excellence, ‘can do’ attitude and UK culture.

“These results show just what we can do when Team GB pulls together.

“The challenge now is to stay on top of the world in 2013. Without a huge global event like the Olympics next year, we need to keep on finding smart new ways to share our soft power assets: English, our education system, our vibrant arts scene and our entrepreneurial spirit to name but a few.”