Visit Britain wants London 2012 to be the first social media games

Visit Britain has said it wants the 2012 London Olympics to be the first social media games.

Speaking at an Institute of Travel and Tourism dinner last night, Sandie Dawe, Visit Britain chief executive, admitted that this year could be “tricky” for UK tourism due to the event.

But she said people who put off coming to the UK because of perceptions that London will be inundated with visitors will be encouraged to visit by those who do come sharing their experiences.

“My hope is that the Games will be a massive success in terms of spectator experience,” she told travel industry guests at the House of Commons event.

“Most of the sport and all of the torch relay will be played out against the backdrop of historic sites, attractions, towns and villages.

“If people are having a good time, images of people having a good party will be shared round the world and London will be seen to be a fun place to visit.

“I hope that people will be Tweeting and Facebooking I’m having the time of my life, this is cool, let’s come back next year.”

Asked about reports of inflated hotel prices in the UK, issues like APD and VAT levels and perceptions of the chaos the games will cause in London, Dawe admitted there was a “propaganda war” going on to persuade people to come.

“The tourism industry has been aware of the issue right from the start that the year you host the Olympics your tourism is likely to go down,” she said.

“In terms of what we are doing about it we have for the past few years been pumping out information to tour operators and the media about the facts – London is not closed.

“You are up against the perception in Olympics year that people will give it a miss and they will come next year. It’s like a propaganda war.

“It’s likely to be a tricky year. Theatres and attractions are quite worried and some have built in to their projections that they will be up to 40% down.”

Dawe said high level discussions have been had with hoteliers, Visit Britain and the British Hospitality Association and they have been unable to persuade them to change their pricing.

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