It isn’t every day that the ‘greatest show on earth’ rolls into town. Not only is the Olympics back in the UK for the first time today since 1948, but the Olympic torch relay came past the offices of Amadeus UK on its way to light the flame at London’s Olympic stadium.
Many of us couldn’t resist the opportunity to leave our desks for a few minutes to take a look at this once-in-a-lifetime procession, and we weren’t alone. It is estimated that by the time of the opening ceremony some 8,000 torchbearers will have carried it through more than 1,000 communities throughout the UK. Before it has even reached the capital, organisers say about 10 million people will have seen it.
Travelling on business recently, I have often been asked, ‘How do people feel about the Olympics coming to London?’ It isn’t a simple question to answer. For anyone interested in history-making sporting achievements, there is tremendous excitement of course.
I also sense a communal pride in the impressive infrastructure and building developments around the new Olympic Park, an area of East London that is undergoing some much needed urban regeneration. But there is also apprehension about how well the nation will cope with the huge influx of visitors.
Such mixed attitudes were reflected in two recent surveys Amadeus conducted. The most recent was around the travel intentions of some 2000 Brits during the 2012 Games. This consumer research conducted in June revealed that during the time of the Olympics (27 July to 12 August), nearly one in five Britons (19 percent) was planning to take a holiday, either within the UK or abroad.
In another Forward Keys study of travel trends based on actual booking data, travel to London is set to be 13% higher than the same period in 2011, with travellers from the US and Germany representing the highest number of in-bound visitors. Booking data until mid-May showed that many UK citizens appeared to be deferring outbound travel, which will surge +10% year-on-year in the three weeks following the Games.
I’m sure the nation will join the world in following what is set to be a spectacular Olympics that takes place not only in London, but in various locations around the United Kingdom including Cardiff in Wales, Manchester and Weymouth on the south coast.
But no matter how much preparation goes into the planning and executing of the ‘greatest show on earth’ Brits everywhere are pinning their hopes on the appearance of one very elusive yet welcome visitor, Summer sunshine!