Visitors to UK Advised To Book Car Rentals Early Before 2012 Olympics Commences

With the 2012 Olympic Games less than 100 days away, the UK based car rental comparison website,, has advised overseas visitors to book their rentals in the UK well in advance.

The company has stated that its website has registered a considerable increase in car rental bookings at important UK destinations around the 2012 Olympics venues and dates.

The website statistics indicate that six times more US visitors have booked their rentals in the UK between July 20 and August 12, 2012, than for the same period last year. Around 40 percent of US visitor rentals are from the Gatwick or Heathrow airports in London, emphasising the importance placed on being in close proximity to the London Games from day one.

The figures also indicate a particular spike in bookings for July 20 to 21, 2012, which is thought to be due to the increasing numbers of visitors to UK for the Games’ opening ceremony, to be held in London, on July 27, 2012. Most car rentals during this period are for 10 to 12 days, which infers that visitors are also intending to include a UK-based vacation before the Games begin.

The company managing director, Gareth Robinson, said, ‘Our figures show a clear increase in car rental bookings around the time of the Olympics and this is likely to increase further as we get closer to the games. The UK really is the place to be this summer with many Americans making the 2012 Olympics their summer holiday.

Train journeys can be expensive and are likely to be very busy during the games – possibly not ideal for families and larger groups. The option of renting a car gives more flexibility, especially when travelling to different events either in London or around the UK. Those booking early can make significant savings while having a wider choice of vehicles and essential extras such as child seats and sat navs.’

Eurostar Sees Rise in Sales in 2012 First Quarter

Eurostar International, the UK-based high-speed rail service between the UK and mainland Europe, has reported an increase in sales from leisure travel for the three months ended march 31, 2012.

Although there has been a growth of 4 percent in leisure travel, to 2.24 million passengers in the first three months of 2012, compared to 2.15 million in the first three months of last year, the company has reported stagnation in its business travel figures.

Sales revenue for Eurostar has grown by 7 percent to £211 million in the 2012 first quarter, compared to £197 million in the same quarter of 2011, predominantly due to the growth in leisure travel.

The company chief executive officer, Nicolas Petrovic, said, ‘The year got off to a strong start with sales revenues and passenger numbers on the up. Our core destinations continue to be a big draw for passengers but we have also seen particularly good take-up of our Amsterdam fares as passengers are increasingly keen to try out new leisure destinations by high speed rail.’

The railway company is also sponsoring the 2012 Olympic Games, and is hosting a one-day summer arts festival, Traction, in London on July 14, 2012, as part of the London 2012 Festival.

Petrovic said, ‘We are gearing up for an exciting summer, as the nation counts down to the London 2012 celebrations. Bookings for the June bank holiday weekend are looking strong with thousands of visitors coming to London to enjoy the unique pageantry of the Queen’s Jubilee.’

Weymouth Tourism Benefits from Olympics 2012 Visitor Bookings

Weymouth, the seaside town in Dorset, UK, has recently seen an increase in holiday cottage bookings from foreign visitors for the summer of 2012, fuelled by interest in the upcoming Olympic Games, commencing this July.

Weymouth Bay and Portland Harbour in Dorset are hosting the sailing competitions for the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics. The area has natural vantage points for watching the events, even for visitors who are not able to acquire tickets to the Games’ waterside viewing areas. The region will be hosting around 13 events during the Olympics, and has previous experience of hosting many other international sailing events.

Hideaways, a UK-based holiday cottage company, has reported an increase in bookings for its self-catering holiday cottages by European Union nationals for the summer of 2012, when compared to the same period last year.

As tourism in the Weymouth and Portland Harbour areas increases, it appears that in addition to watching the Olympic events, the visiting EU nationals are opting to add a UK holiday to their trip, as is evident from the growing number of bookings for hotels and holiday cottages that companies in the area are receiving by the day.

Says Nick Pash, owner of Hideaways, ‘We have seen an increase in the number of bookings for our holiday cottages in Dorset from people that are planning on attending the events in Weymouth and Portland. There have been more bookings from European visitors, who have said they are combining their trips to the games with a holiday in Dorset.’

Local businesses support Olympic Torch through Bath

The Olympic torch will be visiting the City of Bath on May 22 and local businesses are helping to make it a memorable day.  Preparations are being made with local businesses, residents and the local authority to mark the honour of the Flame’s visit to Bath.  A street parade, music, dancing and various celebrity appearances are planned, a real day of partying for Bath.

Guest House owners, such as Les & Lynsay Redwood, who run Apple Tree Guest House in the centre of Bath are just one of the businesses that are getting involved. Les Redwood said: “This is a real honour for the whole of Bath, and we want to play our part in the community by supporting the Torch celebrations when they happen on 22nd May.”

Organisers of the Olympic Torch Relay boast that the torch will come within 10 miles of 95% of the UK population, passing through 1,019 communities on its 70 day journey around the United Kingdom.  8,000 people will carry the torch on its 8,000 mile journey that will culminate with the lighting of the Olympic Flame in London on July 27, 2012.

British MPs Warn of Airport Gridlock during London Olympics 2012

Members of Britain’s Parliament have warned of a possible gridlock of British Airports during the London Olympic Games, which commence in July this year.

The Culture, Media and Sport Committee of the House of Commons is warning of overcrowding at UK airports during the London Olympic Games. Two members of the committee, Therese Coffey and Gerry Sutcliffe, are said to have attended a BAA (operator of six British Airports) briefing where the company expressed its concerns over handling the departure of international athletes after the closing ceremony.

The members of parliament have claimed that while much has been done for accommodating ‘unusual sporting equipment, arranging special lanes for the Olympic family, and welcoming arrangements for competitors and Olympic ambassadors’, there still exists an issue of dealing with long queues at the airport immigration desks.

The UK Border Agency (UKBA), the agency responsible for passport control counters at UK airports, has, in recent times, reduced its task force by around 25 percent, and the MPs are concerned that this could result in a negative impact on Britain’s tourism industry, as visitors may be discouraged from visiting the UK due to long queues at the airport, leading to delayed flights and overcrowding at the terminals.

The members have also felt an acute absence of any kind of contingency plan to deal with airport overcrowding, and hence gridlock remains a heightened possibility.

A letter to culture secretary, Jeremy Hunt, signed by committee chairman, John Whittingdale, said, ‘We are aware that our sister committees, on Transport, and Home Affairs, have a strong interest in these issues and, may raise them with the relevant departments before the start of the Games. However, we wished to draw our concerns to your attention, as Minister with overall responsibly for the success of the London Olympic and Paralympic Games.’

Birmingham named ‘top place to go in 2012’

The New York Times has listed Birmingham as one of the must-see destinations for 2012.

An unlikely option as it’s rarely considered an obvious travel destination by tourists both overseas and in this country. However the 2012 Olympics means that Birmingham has been touted as an unlikely destination for curious Americans.

The US newspaper’s ‘45 Places to Go in 2012’ feature has placed the home of Cadbury’s and the Bullring at number 19 – a ranking that places it above the likes or Jordan, Dubrovnik, Vienna and Antarctica. 

Over the last 20 years the city has under gone a radical transformation, which has seen the development of Selfridges sleek and futuristic outline – which holds 15,000 sun-catching aluminium discs.

Selfridges design is now a predominant feature in the city’s skyline.

American visitors may also be impressed by the city’s Jewellery Quarter, home to independent artisans. Whereas the Mailbox and Brindleyplace offer new bars, restaurants and hotels – and are the 21st century face of the metropolis.

The local tourist authority is certainly bullish about the city’s charms.

Neil Rami, Chief Executive of Marketing Birmingham said “Birmingham has worked hard to improve its reputation as a visitor destination in recent years, by showcasing, amongst other attributes, our fantastic and diverse food”.

“Our Michelin star chefs and fine dining restaurant scene have catapulted the city into the culinary spotlight”.

He added: “As the only English city outside of the capital to be named in this high profile listing, Birmingham has every reason to be proud of the international attention its culinary scene is attracting”.

Jerry Blackett, chief executive of Birmingham Chamber of Commerce Group said “Birmingham’s cultural, entertainment and gastronomic attractions do now indeed compete with the very best – it’s official”.

Article by Charlee Greenhalgh

Olympic athletes given priority treatment over passengers at Heathrow

One of this years biggest events – the Olympic Games is set to be a national celebration of sporting excellence, however it seems that the games is set to cause delays at Heathrow airport frustrating UK travellers.

UK Border Agency policy documents, warn of long queues at Heathrow Airport due to the high number of visitors expected to enter the country ahead of and during the tournament in July and August. This volume of visitors may lead to non-Olympic passengers being held up, as priority treatment will be given to travellers connected to the game.


The documents warn that delays may be caused by the collection of biometric data on incoming passengers, including fingerprints.


A ‘key risks’ section in the document states:


The collection of biometric may result in passengers being unduly delayed passing through border control’.


Dedicated lanes and the time taken to collect the biometric of GFM (Games Family Members) may result in delays to non-Olympic passenger journeys’.


25,000 athletes, officials and coaches could be given priority treatment if a new fast-track scheme is introduced.


To cope with the huge numbers of passengers, airport immigration staff will be transferred from their normal duties to help.


Heathrow is set to handle 80 per cent of Olympic-related traffic, including athletes, kit, officials, sponsors and media.


The day after the closing ceremony August 13 is set to be the most difficult day for the airport, with around 218,000 bags set to pass through the airport.


A spokesman for Heathrow said the airport will be ready to cope with the extra crowds.


Around 15 per cent of bags will be outsize sporting equipment, such as canoes, vaulting poles or bikes, which cannot be processed through normal baggage systems”.


Options being considered to manage the extra demand include baggage drop facilities at the Olympic Village, shipping some baggage as freight and construction of a temporary ‘Olympic terminal’, which would be taken down after the Games”.


Colin Matthews, BAA chief executive added:


London 2012 will be Heathrow’s greatest challenge”.


Article by Charlotte Greenhalgh

Olympic Games unlikely to boost UK tourism

In 2012 we will welcome two of the biggest UK events in decades, however the country is unlikely to see a boost in the number of tourists visiting the UK next year.


In June celebrations will commence for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, and the Olympic Games will take place in July and August, however according to VisitBritain neither of these big events will product a significant boom in tourism from overseas.


The UK tourist authority has predicted that 30.7million travellers will head to Britain next year – around the same amount of tourists recorded from the past 12 months.


Authorities have blamed the Olympics for the expected tourism figures, stating that would-be tourists see the event as much a turn-off as others see it as a reason to travel.


Christopher Rodrigues, chairman of VisitBritain said: “History tells you (the Olympic Games) have displacement effect in the year of the event. Lots of people say: ‘I’ll give it a miss’”.


The challenge for us is to counter the displacement effect with an active marketing programme to encourage people to consider Britain in 2012”.


A £100million marketing fund to boost tourism has been announced by the Government, even though the economic benefit of next year’s 30.7million tourists is expected to be only £17.6million.


Sandie Dawe, chief executive of VisitBritain said: “While these (visitor) figures are in line with expected numbers in 2011, maintaining current visitor levels would be a good outcome in a year that is proving difficult to predict due to the current global economic climate and the impact this may have in many of our key markets”.


She added: “Visit Britain is working hard to ensure that the Games and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations will generate positive PR for Britain, taking advantage of the global interest and creating a lasting tourism legacy for the future”.


Article by Charlotte Greenhalgh

London 2012 Spectators Invited to Set New Carbon Offset World Record

Team GB Olympic and Paralympic hopefuls lead call for ticketholders to neutralise their travel carbon footprint to the games

In supporting the ambition for London 2012 to be the most sustainable Games possible, BP Target Neutral announced today that they are inviting London 2012 ticket holders, from across the world, to try and set a new world record for the most number of people offsetting their travel carbon to a single event.

In so doing, BP’s not-for-profit Target Neutral carbon management scheme is seeking to create awareness of the environmental impact of all journeys and will invite ticket holders to sign up to have their travel carbon footprint offset at no cost to themselves.

As the London 2012 official Carbon Offset Partner, BP Target Neutral will be providing the administration and funds to offset the carbon emissions from Games-related travel of ticket holders. The more people that sign up, the more Target Neutral can support low carbon development projects worldwide.

A personal invitation to participate will be emailed by The London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) to ticket holders on Monday, October 3, inviting them to take part in this unprecedented world record attempt.

Team GB hopeful and BP athlete ambassador William Sharman said: “I am a huge advocate of Target Neutral – reducing and offsetting our own carbon footprint is one small step to helping save the planet that we all live on. If everyone does their bit the impact will be significant – and what better way to start than by offsetting your journey to the 2012 Olympic Games in London – if every one of the spectators signs up for BP’s not-for-profit scheme in just a couple of clicks millions of people will be making a real difference.”

2017 World Athletics Championships could head to London

Government backs bid to bring IAAF competition to the Olympic Stadium.

UK Athletics has confirmed it will bid to host the 2017 IAAF World Athletics Championships at the Olympic Stadium in London with the full backing of the Government and Mayor of London.

The bid will be led by Sebastian Coe and supported by a coalition of DCMS, UKA, UK Sport and London & Partners, the Mayor of London’s official promotional agency. Lord Coe will personally submit the bid at this year’s IAAF World Athletics Championships in Daegu and a decision is expected on 11 November 2011.

An Olympic legacy

Sports Minister Hugh Robertson said: “The demand for London 2012 athletics tickets proves the level of public support that exists for world class track and field. Hosting the 2017 IAAF World Athletics Championships would be a wonderful legacy from London 2012 and help us fulfil a commitment made during the bid.”

The UK has vast experience in hosting world class sporting events. Holding the World Championships in London would provide a considerable boost to the capital’s economy, and help develop Athletics by inspiring young people.