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Olympic tourism strategies and recommendations for London 2012
General Description of Tourism Strategies
Tourism industry is of grand significance for the local or national economy. As the most fast developing industry, it has become a great contributor to the GDP of a country. Take United Kingdom, its prospering tourism industry contribute a lot to the British economy and is also the biggest employers. The UK tourism industry is worth £114 billion and more than 8% of the total gross domestic product in the year 2008. (UK tourism industry worth £114b, 2009)
Tourism industry covers more than scenic or historical spots, but also all the related leisure and service industries which range from local restaurants to the magnificent hotels, from the vendors on the seaside to the big shopping malls in downtown area. When tourism strategies are to be defined, all these factors should be considered. Different regions or countries may have distinctive characteristics and thus apply to various tourism strategies. However, the aim of tourism is more or less the same, that is, to realize maximum economic and social benefits while improve the national image. In the background of climate changes and worsening global environment, the aim should also target to improve the sustainability of natural environment and tourism. From this point of view, tourism strategies can be classified as:
- Transportation and infrastructure strategy
- Service quality strategy
- Visitors strategy
- Marketing and promotion strategy
- Image strategy
- Environment strategy
Olympic Tourism Strategies for London 2012
Olympic tourism is defined as tourism behavior motivated or generated by the Olympic Games. (Mike Weed, 2007) Olympic is a grand event during which people from all over the world compete, cheer and play together. Olympic Games have profound effect on tourism industry of the host country. In most cases, Olympic Games added a great amount of money to the economy during and after the Games, like Beijing 2008 , China. (Beijing post-Olympic economy promising, 2009) Surly, the meaning of Olympic to tourism is more than financial benefits. In the background of global financial crisis, however, London 2012 Olympic Games are a great opportunity both for London and the whole country.
London, as one of oldest and most glorious cities in Europe and even in the world, has held Olympic Games twice, London 1908 and London 1948. More than half century passed, London is eager to present its new image to the outside world. Combined the past, the present and the future, the objectives of tourism strategy of London 2012 Olympics are as follows:
- Enhance transportation and infrastructure of London and other tourist cities of UK;
- Better service and accommodation quality;
- Improve skills of tourism workforce to serve visitors from home and abroad;
- Attract more economic opportunities from outside world;
- Realize the sustainable development of tourism;
- Raise the image of London and UK.
Recommendations for London 2012 Olympic Games
1. Taking full advantage of the grand event to enhance transportation and infrastructure system
Holding Olympic Games is a great opportunity for the host city or country to better its transport and infrastructure. The Australian Tourist Commission obtained US$6.7 million from the Australian Government over four years (1997 - 2000) to maximize the tourism opportunities presented by Sydney's staging of the 2000 Olympic Games. (John Morse, 2001) A great proportion was of course spent on transport and infrastructure establishment.
Transport and infrastructure are important elements of tourism industry. Only well-conditioned transport and infrastructure can match the rich culture, heritage and landscape of a country. It is especially true for UK's case. So British government should establish new or refresh old transport facilities and infrastructure of London and other tourist cities, which includes widening the roads, developing the airport access, improving the interregional railways links, increasing pubic transport vehicles, bettering the telecommunication system and improving the facilities in tourist spots. Since London 2012 is of such great value to the whole country, the investment is worthwhile. The fund can also be raised from common citizens, because it is beneficial for every Londoner and even every British. After all, tourists from overseas come and go, and it is the local people that can for a long time enjoy the better facilities. It can leave a rich Olympic legacy for UK.
Special infrastructure should be established for disabled and old tourists, especially during Paralympics. Olympics is for all, and tourism is for all. In addition, providing special needs for disabled tourists means a great profit. (Third International Tourism Development Forum for People with Special Needs, 2009)
2. Improving the service quality of restaurants, hotels and other tourism related entities
Tourism industry is more than sceneries and historical spots. Food, accommodation and other services for visitors also play a vital role. There will be millions of tourists from home and abroad going to the same place before, during and after the Olympics, it is challenging but also important to serve them clean and delicious food and comfortable accommodations. Food is an integral part of culture, it is a great chance to present people from other cultures the local food and local culture. They come, they experience and they enjoy. Again, the improvement of service quality is also beneficial to local people in the long run.
Improving service standards is the key to a service industry or departments. Not only for the restaurants and hotels, other service entities like banks, police stations and even the local government also need to pay full attention on quality control. For this purpose, a range of rules and legal arrangements shall be made to strengthen service qualities.
3. Improve the skills of workforce to better service the visitors
Guides and volunteers of London 2012 is an important group of promoters of UK, because they directly communicate with tourists. They shall be well trained to serve visitors, especially overseas visitors. When oversea tourists come, they may know little about English. Even they know, it may still difficult for them to understand the accents of local people. It needs patience of them to communicate with foreign tourists. Knowing a little bit Chinese, Spanish or other languages must help to leave foreign tourists a good impression.
Not only the volunteers but also the common citizens need to be friendly enough to overseas tourists. They all symbolize their glorious country then. Courtesy and elegance are always important qualities of most British people, and it is a great moment to present them to the whole world.
4. Focusing on green Olympics and realizing sustainable tourism
Green Olympics were the promoting words of Beijing Olympics, but may be applied in the consecutive Games held after in the background of climate change threats and other global environment issues. Tourism is most closely related with natural environment. Greater efforts shall be made to maintain sustainable tourism since realizing the maximum profits is always regarded as the first goal of most host country.
The first step is to solve some serious pollution in London and other major cities and make them green and clean. Then, make the awareness into the deep hearts of common people. Tourists, whether from home or abroad, should also be informed of the concept. Awareness of protecting environment differs from country to country. It will be a tough job to educate them not to throw rubbish in the tourist spots, not to spit on ground and so on. Climate change is nowadays one of the hottest issues around the world. UK can take this chance to hold a global forum to discuss the problem and find the ways out and to call on the whole world to fight against it.
5. Taking every opportunity to market and promote UK and establish a new image
There are so many beautiful cities in so many amazing countries, why UK is the ideal destination for tourists, just because it will hold the Olympic Games? What else the Games end? Take UK as a brand, hosting Olympic Games will be a great opportunity to promote the brand both to British people themselves and to outside world. Effective marketing does help in attracting visitors (Eric Laws, 1991), investors from home and broad, and also attracting international meetings and forums. These activities shall bring great potential benefits to UK.
Marketing shall be conducted strategically and visitor-centered. Various ways can be implemented to market and promote UK effectively, like holding festivals on streets and exhibiting distinctive products and services. Whatever the way is, the core is to give visitors pleasant experiences and joyful impressions, making them believe UK is quite different from what they would think and it is a land full of hopes and potentials. Marketing and promoting activities can also focus on attracting investors and business cooperators. Opportunities exist everywhere. In the long run, the new facilities shall attract various international meeting to be held in UK, not only in London. Every city can present itself and show its advantages.
UK was, is and will always be the land of glory, magic, magnificence and advancement. 2012 London must be a perfect event to establish a brand new image and present it to the whole world.
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