The 2012 Games are forecast to benefit UK tourism in many ways, from enhancing the country’s image overseas, to triggering improvements in our customer service levels. So whilst not every tourism business will see a direct commercial gain from the short period of the Games, the whole of the visitor economy is set to reap the long-term benefits of the staging the world’s biggest event.
The Economic Impact
VisitBritain is targeting a 4.6 million extra overseas visitors generating £2.3 billion in extra visitor spend by 2014/15 as a consequence of successfully hosting the Games and the Jubilee celebrations in 2012. These gains are generated largely by higher numbers of visitors from overseas who are motivated to visit the UK and London as a consequence of publicity associated with the Games.
The Media Opportunity
The 2012 Games are forecast to attract global television audiences of around 4 billion viewers. Previous Olympic and Paralympic Games and other major sporting events have already shown that tourism can benefit substantially from the hugely increased media exposure of the destination before, during and after the event.
Examples include Barcelona, who showed the world it was a vibrant, cosmopolitan city during the 1992 Games. Germany demonstrated how to roll out the red carpet for visitors during the 2006 FIFA football World Cup, challenging world perceptions of German people and substantially boosting its short breaks market. Canada used the platform of the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games to redefine and sell their tourism story around the world. They are now busy “closing the sale” and ensuring that these great stories are converted to additional visitors and business across the whole country.
Building the Britain Brand
The 2012 Games offer London and Britain a once-in-a-generation platform to project positive tourism messages to international audiences, to enhance the image of the UK and ultimately to inspire visitors to our shores. As Michael Payne, former Marketing Director, International Olympic Committee puts it:
"For any nation the economics of staging the Olympic Games are best understood as a Herculean re-branding campaign. The Olympics have the effect of focussing the world's attention, for a very brief moment, on a single city and the culture of the host nation.”
Quality and Customer Service
The 2012 Games also provide the UK’s hospitality and tourism industry with a focal point to improve the quality of its welcome and customer service. The UK is currently ranked fifth in the Nations Brand Index Survey where countries are evaluated against a wide range of criteria. But it slips to 13th for its perceived ‘Welcome’. People 1st’s State of the Nation 2010 research report highlighted that 65% of businesses reporting skills gaps stated staff lacked necessary customer service skills. Training schemes such as WorldHost and Welcome to Excellence aim to raise the standards in the industry in advance of the Games to ensure the UK provides a world-class welcome for visitors who will then act as ambassadors when they return to their own countries.
For more information on training & skills, go to “Provide a world-class welcome”.
The government has challenged VisitBritain to deliver “the best ever tourism marketing campaign by the host country of an Olympic Games” (Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State). A "GREAT Britain You're Invited" campaign will continue to leverage the huge media attention around the Diamond Jubilee and the 2012 Games and will be funded by a £100m public/private marketing fund and partners including British Airways, Radisson Edwardian Hotels, P&O Ferries, easyJet, DFDS, Hilton Hotels, Expedia, STA Travel Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Museum.
The first phase of the campaign launched in June 2011 when a global TV advert campaign was launched featuring famous British celebrities including Dame Judi Dench, Dev Patel, Twiggy, Rupert Everett and Jamie Oliver, issuing an invitation to audiences in 20 key markets to visit Britain in a unique period of celebration.
But participation is not confined to large corporations - Throughout 2012, tourism businesses can get involved with VisitBritain’s ‘Share Your GREAT Britain’ campaign, and extend the invitation to visit Britain in 2012 and beyond to your customers.