Gov’t official hails ‘chance to sell UK’

Gov’t official hails ‘chance to sell UK’

LONDON - Agence France-Presse
Gov’t official hails ‘chance to sell UK’

Members of the National Youth Theatre perform during the Olympic Team Welcome Ceremony at the Olympic Village for the 2012 London Olympics. AP photo

The London Olympics are Britain’s best chance to sell itself for more than 150 years, a government official declared yesterday.

Speaking nine days before the Games open, Alan Collins, the managing director for Olympic Legacy at UK Trade and Investment, said he was confident they would help Britain attract 6.0 billion pounds ($9.4 billion) in inward investment by 2016.

“This is the best opportunity since the Great Exhibition of 1851 to show off Britain,” Collins told a press conference in central London.

The 1851 Great Exhibition at Crystal Palace in London was the first in a series of World’s Fair exhibitions of culture and industry that were popular in the 19th century and early 20th century.

London estimates that a campaign of tourism to promote Britain built around last year’s royal wedding, the diamond jubilee this year and the Olympics will attract 4.6 million extra visitors between 2011 and 2015.

But Britain’s tourism chief hit out at the country’s “utter obsession” with the weather, saying foreign visitors do not come to the United Kingdom for beach holidays.

Sandie Dawe, chief executive of Visit Britain, brushed off concerns that weeks of heavy rain would deter visitors to the Games.

“It is only the Brits that have a complete and utter obsession with our weather,” she told the press conference. “The rest of the world are less interested.

“Frankly, people do not come here to lie on a beach. That is not our offer.”