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Plan to make most of Olympic benefit

27 July 2006

Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell launched the Government's widest ever consultation with the tourism industry last week in a bid to maximise the benefits of hosting the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The Welcome Legacy document poses 21 questions to encourage innovative ideas from pan-industry operators of all sizes. It forecasts that tourism will enjoy the lion's share of growth from the games, at between 50% and 75% of the estimated £2b gain.

Topics covered include overseas marketing; improving accommodation standards, access for the disabled and employment skills; and setting new targets for tourism turnover.

The British Hospitality Association (BHA) plans to send members a simplified version of the consultation paper for the 2012 games, which will focus on opportunities to win more business, particularly before and after the games rather than during the course of 2012.

BHA chief executive Bob Cotton said: "Key issues include improved disabled accessibility for the Paralympics; how members can access training campaigns; how we can use the harmonised accommodation grading scheme as a kitemark for booking rooms in this country; and how we can spread the business beyond London to the whole country."

The document asks whether incentives would increase participation in the harmonised accommodation scheme and whether London, which has the lowest uptake in the country, should set its own target.

Restaurants, too, can contribute to the quality debate, as VisitBritain has just started piloting a national quality assessment scheme for restaurants, tearooms, pubs and cafés that could be introduced next spring.

It looks at cleanliness, hospitality, service and efficiency, presentation and food quality.

Both organisations welcomed the document's commitment to revise current targets to expand tourism value from £75b to £100b by 2010. They are, said Cotton, based on research from 2003 and therefore meaningless.

But Kurt Janson, policy director at the Tourism Alliance, criticised the Government's failure to indicate what resources it would put behind any new strategy.

By Angela Frewin

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