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London Olympics opens new windows for UK

The Olympics have boosted domestic tourism within the UK as much as international footfall to the country

Each time we have hosted the Olympics the world faced turbulence and trouble, and each time the games have been a triumph… For every Briton, just as for the competitors, this is our time, and one day we will tell our children and our grandchildren that when our time came, we did it right.”

In my last column for T3 I wrote about the coming impact of the Olympic games on London, outbound travel and more. A few weeks later the words set out above, spoken by Chairman of the London Olympic Games Organising Committee Lord Sebastian Coe at the Opening Ceremony of London 2012, have been proven to be accurate. I don’t always feel proud to be British, but the way the Games have united our country and opened a new window on the UK to the rest of the world is something that has got pretty much every Briton excited and passionate.

Meeting recently with Lady Penelope Cobham, the chairman of Visit England, it’s clear that our tourism authorities here recognise that, almost, that was the easy part. The work of ensuring that the true legacy of the games becomes more than the memories of stunning sporting achievements, but a tourism industry that will continue to grow and build on the renewed international interest in our country, begins now.

Visit England will already be engaging with the tourism industry in India and promoting the country as a destination with renewed vigour that comes with a new and once-in-a-lifetime story to tell. There are new attractions and new packages, which many foreign journalists have already been introduced to in a series of familiarisation trips that took place in the weeks following the Games.

But interestingly, the authority is also putting a renewed focus on the UK travel trade. Now Visit England is engaging hard with the major UK travel businesses to come up with packages that will make it just as easy to persuade Britons to holiday here.

It’s been apparent that this summer many hotels and tourist attractions here have not hit the heights expected while attention has been fully focussed on the Games. But, despite the long-term negative impact that some Olympic hosts have experienced in the past, I now expect both inbound and domestic trade to leap ahead - and I fully expect that tourists from India coming to the UK will be rubbing shoulders with more Britons at our popular tourism sights than they have in the past in the months and years to come.

There’s nothing like grasping while the iron’s hot…or indeed grabbing the Olympic baton and running with it…

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