UK MICE and business travel sector to profit from the Olympics

THE LONDON 2012 Olympics Games has come to a close, but its legacy lingers on, as Britain is now capitalising on the hype generated to draw corporate travellers and MICE delegates from Asia to its shores.

“Brand Britannia is on the rise, and hopefully, the country will be able to sustain its newfound popularity and ultimately, benefit from all the hype centred around the Olympics. The UK showed the world and the travel trade exactly what London can do. The capital’s infrastructure coped with an influx of arrivals, even in the face of security issues and strike threats. To top it off, the media projected Britain in a positive light, which could serve us well in marketing campaigns targeted at Asian (corporate travel) markets,” said James Alba-Duignan, regional sales director, Hogg Robinson Group.

VisitEngland, which opened its first Asian regional headquarters in Delhi National Capital Region (NCR) in July, has been assigned to bolster corporate travel and MICE from Asia-Pacific to London and the rest of England.

Alba-Duignan believes that London will be the main beneficiary of this renewed interest in the UK. “However, the UK is a small country, and London is connected to an artery of roads and railway lines. Any additional traffic generated post-Olympics should spread across the country,” he said.

Nonetheless, despite the feel-good sentiment and the riches anticipated to trickle down to Britain’s coffers, the UK economy continues to tether on the brink of disaster.

But this could work to Britain’s advantage, said Alba-Duignan.

“Reports are already suggesting that Britain is in recession. This could trigger more quantitative easing from the Bank of England in the near term, which would send the pound plunging. Cost is a major concern for corporate firms in Asia when deciding to hold a meeting or event in Europe, and if the pound was debased further against Asian currencies, this could encourage more Asian firms to conduct business or stage events in the UK,” he explained.

He added that it was essential for tourism authorities, travel consultancies and event planners in the UK to work creatively to ensure that corporate companies see the added value of holding a meeting or event in the UK versus other destinations.

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