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OLYMPICS22 . www.conference-news.co.uk . June 2012June Director of Business Tourism at London and Partners, Tracy Halliwell, told CN: "Staging the Olympic Games gives London a unique opportunity in the global spotlight to showcase all it has to offer from its wonderful attractions to the major new infrastructure projects that have been delivered. Its profi le will be raised even higher than it is already, attracting more overseas travellers to come and do business and hold meetings here, as well as investors keen to profi t from the many opportunities that are arising just from hosting the 2012 Games. "With the amount of investment coming into the city, London is being reinvented and even visitors who might feel they know London well may be surprised by the developments which have taken place over the last four years. The opening of these great new venues will provide fantastic opportunities for the events industry to harness exposure to new audiences and capitalise on a changing industry backdrop."The Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park will be the perfect location for a raft of event activity. Following the Games this summer, there will be seven new hospitality areas within the Olympic Park including the ArcelorMittal Orbit, the tallest sculpture in the UK, which will be able to host 200 guests for a reception and offer views across the stadium, the Aquatics Centre and the Velodrome will also become key venues for gala events and the Multiuse Arena which is known as the 'Copper Box' will become London's third biggest indoor arena. The south end of the park will also offer temporary exhibition and conference venue space as well as the actual stadium. "In addition to the new venues, the 'halo effect' has been felt city-wide as a raft of improvements and developments have been made to the transport network, new venues, new hotels and many more new attractions," added Halliwell."London is buzzing right now and there really has never been a better time to bring a business event here now and in 2013."

2012June 2012 . www.conference-news.co.uk . 23 OLYMPICSHBAA comment:Andrew Deakin, Director of Conference Care and Marketing Chair at HBAA tells CN: "Visit Britain needs to continue to bang the drum long after the Olympics are over, to ensure a lasting legacy for our busy and growing city."Deakin says his records show that September to December 2012 will be a diffi cult time for the industry with event bookings currently looking 40 per cent down compared to the same period in 2011. September is a particularly weak month, according to his fi gures which show event bookings are down 78 per cent on 2011."With short lead times becoming the norm, I expect the 40 per cent fi gure will drop to 20 per cent as more bookings are made closer to the event date, but it will be a case of suck it and see for most venues," he says."There are fantastic offers to be had across the country up until the end of the year, with many towns and cities outside London dropping their prices to get the business being moved away from the Olympics," he adds.Visitors Research released at the World Travel Market (WTM) Conference London, in November, found the UK will welcome an additional 330,000 international visitors as a direct result of hosting the London 2012 Olympic Games. Euromonitor International's Head of Travel and Tourism Research, Caroline Bremner, told senior travel industry delegates at the event, organised by Reed Travel Exhibitions (RTE), the UK will welcome 29.4m international visitors this year, an increase on 588,000 in 2011. The number of international visitors coming for London 2012 represents less than one per cent of the total UK inbound market.