East Anglia set for £600m Olympic boost

MORE than £600million could be pumped into East Anglia's economy if the region seizes the chance to capitalise on the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, a study published today reveals.

By Danielle Nuttall

MORE than £600million could be pumped into East Anglia's economy if the region seizes the chance to capitalise on the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, a study published today reveals.

The region has the potential to grasp huge financial dividends in tourism and business activity during the next decade - but must make robust preparations if it is to maximise the benefits of the massive sporting showcase.

An economic survey, conducted by the East of England Development Agency, estimates the potential worth of London 2012 to East Anglia to be in excess of £600million.

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This includes a potential £250m from an influx of business and international tourists, £150m through training and improving employment skills so people can take advantage of the new jobs on offer and £100m from business opportunities in areas such as construction and catering.

But the report warns the region could potentially face a loss - of up to £264m - if it does nothing in response to the Games, as resources and lottery funding would flow into other areas instead.

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According to the survey, Suffolk's share of the pool of cash on offer is worth £66m - £25m of which could come from tourism - while Essex's economy could see a massive £139m injection.

The news comes two weeks after Lord Coe, chairman of London's Olympic Organising Committee, told the East Anglian Daily Times the region was likely to reap some of the greatest gains outside the Games.

Last night Scott Dolling, destination marketing manager for the Suffolk Tourism Partnership, said: “The SDA's Tourism Partnership in Suffolk is working closely with businesses and local authorities to ensure that we do get the best possible opportunity from the Olympics.

“The benefit will come not necessarily from 2012 but from the pre and post activity and it is crucial that our message of Suffolk's close proximity to London continues.”

He added: “Over the last two years, through the SDA's tourism partnership, we have been promoting Suffolk as a high quality short breaks destination ideally suited for the London market.

“That is a message that we must continue to press home to make full advantage and it is over the next few years that support for tourism needs to be prioritised through both the public and private sectors.”

Essex county councillor Stephen Castle, chair of the London 2012 Nations and Regions East group, said: “We already have a very strong regional structure in place that will take us forward and ensure we capitalise on the opportunities, and it's reassuring to know that if we take the initiative, the East of England will benefit immensely.

“It's not only economic benefits though; there are huge social benefits too. There will be increased sports' participation, a raised profile for the East as a region for sport, and recognition of the role and importance of sport in the region.”

The survey says visits by international tourists and business visitors could grow 3% annually for the next decade.

But to ensure the region capitalises on potential tourism opportunities, efforts should be made to improve the quality of visitor accommodation, customer service, conference and exhibition centre space and investment made in marketing and promotion, it adds.

The survey predicts businesses in the region to win work worth £100m through Olympic contracts, half of which will go to the construction industry.

“The benefits are not guaranteed, but with intervention in key areas, the positive economic impact on the East of England could exceed £600m,” the report says. “Conversely, if no action is taken, there is the potential for negative impacts on the sub-regions, with labour and expertise flowing from the region.”

Table: Potential sub-regional benefits (in millions).

Business tourism Skills International tourism Health Construction Total

Suffolk 16 24 9 12 5 66

Essex 27 48 20 29 15 139

Cambridgeshire 39 13 27 7 3 89

Norfolk 13 20 11 17 6 67

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