The torch is out, the athletes are heading home and—after years of speculation and anticipation—the 2012 Summer Olympic Games are over.
So how did the city fare as a host? By all accounts, quite well.
Breaking Travel News notes that the international coverage during the Games has boosted Britain’s image around the world - especially in terms of "fun and friendliness," aspects which are crucial when people are deciding where to go on holiday.
Another article noted the billions that were spent on local infrastructure, roads, cleaning up the site in East London and power lines, among other developments. The investment will have a far-reaching impact: For example, the athlete’s village will become affordable housing, in part, and the Olympic Stadium will be kept in public ownership and run at a profit if a suitable tenant can be found, probably a Premier League football club. Notably, only six venues built for the Games were designed to permanent; at Athens 2004, there were 22. This will leave the city with much less of a "white elephant" than other host cities have had following the Games.
As for transportation, aside from the "odd blip" on the Central Line, there were no major transport issues during the Games. Many Londoners have even reported an improvement in their daily commute, with many more working from home, leaving town on holiday or following official advice to reroute journeys.
Sandie Dawe, CEO of VisitBritain, told Travel Agent that London did "amazingly well," praising the volunteers and spectators who "made the Games friendly and fun!" The overseas reactions, she added, have been very positive. Paul Gauger, VisitBritain's Global Leader, 2012 Games Media, noted that the Games saw "record viewing audiences around the globe," which seems poised to inspire travel.
In a statement, Dawe acknowledged the need to capitalize on the attention the nation has received. “We know that the tourism legacy of hosting the Games is not a given and needs to be worked for." To that end, VisitBritain is embarking on their biggest-ever marketing program, working with industry partners—airlines, hotels and tour operators – offering deals to encourage people who saw Britain on their screens start booking trips. "Every year overseas visitors contribute £18 billion to the British economy—twice the cost of staging the Games—and we want to make sure that we continue to compete internationally," she said.
Photo courtesy of VisitBritain