Hospitality’s Olympic legacy: Catalyst for industry growth or series of broken promises?

By Luke Nicholls

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Hospitality industry, Olympic games

The London 2012 Olympics were billed as a major driver of footfall and business in London and the rest of the UK
The London 2012 Olympics were billed as a major driver of footfall and business in London and the rest of the UK
“You have shown the world the best of British hospitality,” said IOC president Jacques Rogge in his speech at the closing ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics on Sunday evening. And the praise for the work of hotels, restaurants and pubs during the Games doesn’t stop there.

Ufi Ibrahim, chief executive of the British Hospitality Association (BHA), believes that BHA members have done so much to make the event a success, insisting it will now leave a lasting legacy on the nation’s hospitality and tourism industries.

“Britain’s hospitality industry has done itself proud and the Olympic Games have shown off Britain as a feel-good destination that will leave a lasting legacy for the UK economy,” said Ibrahim.

“Providing over 16 million meals during the Games was a major undertaking and the British hospitality industry rose to the challenge magnificently. The 2.4 million people who work in hospitality have been the greatest ever ambassadors for Britain.”

Ibrahim went on to urge the industry and the Government to build on the successes; to create a sustainable legacy for young people across Great Britain.

“We must now harness this success and the worldwide visibility that the Games have given us to spread the message that the UK is very much open for business and has a fabulous welcome to offer everyone this year, and in the future.

“The BHA pledges to work with government to realise the huge opportunities that Britain’s hospitality industry offers young people and future generations.

“In particular, it offers a magnificent career for the many volunteers who showed such an aptitude for hosting members of the public during the Games.” 

Tourism boost

Meanwhile, Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt has called on UK businesses to use the positivity from the Olympics to ‘turbo-charge’ the tourism industry, helping to create jobs and prosperity.

The Government will encourage Britons to holiday in the UK, investing a further £2m in marketing domestic tourism. The announcement has been welcomed by national tourist board VisitEngland.

James Berresford, VisitEngland’s chief executive, said:“We are delighted that the Government has shown their belief and confidence in the British tourism industry as an economic generator, and in VisitEngland in harnessing that potential through the extension of the Holidays at Home are GREAT campaign. 

“The additional £2m will be used by VisitEngland to further stimulate the short break market  working in conjunction with the travel trade. 

“The fantastic events of 2012 have provided tourism with an unprecedented opportunity to raise the profile of England as a destination and build on the swell of national pride that the Diamond Jubilee, The Torch Relay, London Festival 2012 and The Games have ignited in us as a population.

“This, I am confident, combined with our continued marketing efforts will help to inspire more Britons to take a break in this country.”

Chinese tourists

As part of Hunt's speech on tourism and the legacy of the 2012 Games, the government is also continuing in its attempts to woo wealthy Chinese tourists to the UK following reports earlier this year that Chinese tourists were outspending American and Russian counterparts.

A further announcement made today by VisitBritain stated that 'this is a market worth competing for – one we need to regard as a marathon rather than a sprint'.

It revealed that delivering growth in China will involve four key areas:

  • Strengthening Britain’s image through the GREAT Britain campaign
  • Ensuring a broader range of British product is sold through the travel trade
  • Improving the visitor visa process, and
  • Increasing flight connections from China to Britain.

Olympics ‘ghost town’

Despite this high appraisal for UK hospitality and the prospect of a significant increase in domestic tourism as a result of the Olympics, many businesses remain sceptical, having seen trade grind to a halt during the event.

Stay tuned to BigHospitality later today for another Olympics podcast, this time looking at the impact on pubs in Stratford. We will also be sending out a Special Olympics newsletter at the end of the month, rounding up the overall effects of the event on all areas of UK hospitality.

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