It's hard to believe that it's five years this month since IOC president Jacques Rogge awarded the 2012 Olympic Games to London. Back then, the run-in to the London Games felt like a marathon. This week, with the opening ceremony just two years away, it feels more like a sprint. In this issue, we assess the country's readiness to host the Olympics.
The good news is that we're on course to have enough hotel rooms to accommodate the influx of visitors to the Games; and that all the major structures where the Games will be played out are on schedule.
Elsewhere, the picture is less rosy, especially when it comes to hospitality skills and training. Here, there's a growing fear that we don't have time to ensure that visitors in 2012 will receive world-class hospitality. Research from People 1st reveals almost one in two companies reports that their managers lack the skills required; while 12% of customer-facing staff in London have no qualifications.
As for the legacy of the Games, the lack of consensus was illustrated perfectly by the disagreement, this week, between VisitBritain and UKinbound. The trade association for the UK's inbound tourism businesses dismissed as "fantasy" the country's overarching tourist authority's assertion that our tourism revenue will grow by more than 60% by 2020. At least both parties were able to agree that the Government would need to address the country's many barriers to growth before any such rise in revenue is possible.
Agree or disagree, neither can alter the fact that the Games are coming - and soon. Their legacy will be only as positive as our combined efforts make it. To this end, hats off to Lancashire trading standards officers for pulling up restaurants that made misleading claims about the description and provenance of their food - "local" samphire from Israel, "Ribble Valley" beef from meat suppliers on Merseyside, "organic" produce that isn't organic
If we are to delight visitors to the UK in 2012 and beyond, eradicating profiteering deceits on menus would seem a good starting point.
Mark Lewis, Editor, Caterer and Hotelkeeper