Giving tourism a sporting chance.

Posted on January 9, 2012


I’m feeling really positive about the impact 2012 will have on tourism in the UK.  I fully understand the argument against, but I truly believe that the plus side of hosting the 2012 Games will out way any negatives.

I’m an avid supporter because I have worked on two really successful tourism and sport collaborations in the past and have seen the powerful impact sport and its personalities have on the place they are associated with.

I was lucky enough to work in Birmingham when the City hosted the World Indoor Athletic Championships – a much smaller event in comparison to the Olympics, I realise – but the impact on the place, and the positive press and profile we were able to generate was second to none.  It also meant that local sports stars stood up and shouted about their City and were the faces of our tourism campaigns; the privilege of working with Daniel Caines, the then 400m Indoors World Champion is something I will always treasure.  The atmosphere in the City during the Championships was electric, and the City looked great, to regular visitors, to visiting sports fans and to those watching it on TV.

Equally, developing the Aston Villa Premiership weekends, meant Birmingham benefited from the draw of premiership football and linked it to the offer in the City.  We certainly turned ‘90 minutes of football into 48 hours of fun’ for vast numbers of people, and I was certainly turned into a Villa fan, and still am. 

In both cases, the sport side really supported the tourism side, you see. 


Daniel went out of his way to travel to London to promote Birmingham and its hosting the World Championships, he came to exhibitions and press calls (and let us use his face for our promotions!) Aston Villa sent players to exhibitions and press conferences, and hosted many journalist visits and events for us.  They understood how they were key players in on the tourism team. 

I have to say, I loved being in the company of such talent, lycra notwithstanding! That’s why I think tourism needs to join the sports team. 

We’re all told that it’s a once in a life time opportunity, and we should maximise the positive impact of hosting the Olympics in the UK – I think we should also maximise our association with the stars of the show.  The venue may be in London, but not all the athletes are from there.  They will have pounded the streets of their local towns, swum lengths of their local swimming pools, pedalled up and down the hills of their particular county. 

Now is the time for the places they come from to give them the recognition they deserve.  Support them, and they will support you. 

They will be as proud of their home towns as both Daniel and Aston Villa are of theirs.