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It's up to us to provide a world-class welcome

24 February 2010 by

So much depends on the 2010 London Olympic Games - or so its advocates would have you believe.

Champions of the games claim the event will provide its vast worldwide audience with a tantalising glimpse of our culture, countryside, and cities and so spark a surge in inbound tourism. They also believe the games will improve the health of the nation, trigger the regeneration of the East End of London and provide much-needed stimulus for economic activity across the country.

But the gainsayers believe the merits of the games have been overstated and that investing more than £7b in the hope that anticipated benefits actually materialise represents a gamble of Olympic proportions.

Caterer columnist and Pride of Britain chief executive Peter Hancock is among them.

"Listening to official tourism spokesmen, you would think all our woes will be neatly spirited away, thanks to their extraordinary foresight in supporting the original bid", Hancock says in this week's issue. Clearly, he is unconvinced that they will.

Whether or not the games deliver a legacy sufficient to justify their cost remains to be seen. For now, we must face these facts: we are committed to hosting the games the year after next; and it's within our powers to make it the best guest experience in Olympic history.

Initiatives such as People 1st's Smiles of Britain campaign have rightly underlined the importance of offering Olympic visitors a world-class welcome.

And the Fair Pricing & Practice Charter that has been created by VisitBritain, Visit London and LOCOG is an important step towards avoiding unfair accommodation price hikes during the games. Meanwhile, let's not get ahead of ourselves. As Hancock reminds us this week, before the first race is run: "We still have 2010 and 2011 to get through".

Mark Lewis, Editor, Caterer & Hotelkeeper

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Jacobs Media Group is honoured to be the recipient of the 2020 Queen's Award for Enterprise.

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