Olympic bid could boost region

MILLIONS of pounds could be ploughed into the region's economy if London hosts the 2012 Olympic games.Tourism bosses and business leaders last nightsaid thousands of extra visitors could make their way to East Anglia if the city stages the Games, boosting businesses and tourist attractions.

MILLIONS of pounds could be ploughed into the region's economy if London hosts the 2012 Olympic games.

Tourism bosses and business leaders last nightsaid thousands of extra visitors could make their way to East Anglia if the city stages the Games,

boosting businesses and tourist attractions.

Tess Wright, managing director of the East of England Tourist Board, sent a letter to the British Olympic Association a year ago giving the organisation's full-backing to the bid.


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She said: "If we won the Olympic bid for 2012 it would significantly raise the profile of Britain as a whole and bring a lot of visitors, of which we would have the opportunity to attract to this part of the country as we are so close to London.

"We know that if we win the bid, there will be athletes coming over for several years before 2012 on acclimatisation programmes and training and they will have recreational needs and we can put programmes together for them.

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"It will attract thousands of visitors, possibly millions. It will remind people of Britain and in the years immediately afterwards, many people will come here and a lot of those will come to this region.

"It will have an impact but it's hard to quantify what this will be. It's the spin-off benefits that come as a result of that and we are particularly well-placed to benefit because we are so close."

The London bid could be a boost for Essex, said Stephen Castle, Essex County Council cabinet member responsible for sports in the county.

"A successful bid for London for the Olympics 2012 could benefit Essex in a number of ways," he said.

Essex could see economic benefits from sports fans coming into the country via Harwich international port and Stansted Airport and from tourists spending time in the county sightseeing while not at the games.

"There's huge potential to hold one or two sporting events in the county, although the bid is focussing on London, such as equestrian events at Great Leighs and white water canoeing at Lee Valley Park.

"More realistically, it's an opportunity for developing extra sporting facilities as practise facilities for visiting teams."

Mr Castle said the council was trying to persuade sports funding organisations to contribute towards a world-class sporting facility in Essex.

"One of our problems is we have a lot over very active sporting men and women but we don't have any real international or national venues apart from Chelmsford Cricket Club.

"It would be great to get a national centre of sporting excellence in Essex."

Bob Feltwell, chief executive of the Suffolk Chamber of Commerce, said the county's businesses could stand to benefit if the London bid was successful.

"The business community will be able to pick up contracts preparing facilities and services for any successful Olympic bid," he said.

He added attracting tourism from the Games would represent a challenge to Suffolk, but could be achieved if the county was marketed well.

"It will depend on the effectiveness of the advertising. People will be travelling to the UK from a long way away so we will be competing with the rest of the tourist industry," said Mr Feltwell.

"We would have to do an awful lot to attract them, but if we can market Suffolk properly we could pick up some tourism."

Ipswich Town Football Club had expressed an interest in staging Olympic football matches at its Portman Road stadium, but was not included in the list of potential soccer venues.

John Williams, chief executive of the Suffolk Development Agency, said: "With East London potentially playing such a key role in the capital's Olympic bid, success in 2012 could present significant opportunities for Suffolk businesses."

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