Olympics to inspire visitors to Norfolk

With the Olympics just a little over 18 months away, tourism leaders were yesterday urged to maximise Norfolk's potential as a tourist destination.

The rallying cry came as tourism chiefs revealed that nearly half of Norfolk's visitors were planning to attend an Olympic event and that 70pc could see the potential in Norfolk being a base for the Games.

Next year, all eyes will be on the UK when the Olympic Games returns to the country for the first time in 64 years.

It is expected that more foreign visitors will head to the global sporting event than previous summer Games held in Europe.

At the Norfolk Tourism Annual Review, held at the Marriott Sprowston Manor Hotel, tourism officials heard how a 2012 task group was formed at the end of last year, aiming to maximise the county's potential in the run up to, during and post Games.

A report compiled by the team revealed that nearly half of Norfolk's visitors are inclined to attend one of the events and that a third consider Norfolk as a suitable base for visiting the Games.

This figure more than doubles when people are made aware of the county's rail links and accessibility to the Olympic Park.

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Clare Millar, from Visit Norwich, said: 'The Olympics present an opportunity for Norfolk as a tourist destination. Communicating that transport message is going to be crucial if we are going to maximise that opportunity.

'We are the closest major holiday destination to the Olympic Park. We have direct rail links to the Olympic Park. 2012 is fast approaching and Norfolk has genuine potential.'

The Olympics is expected to generate �2bn to Britain's tourism economy over the four years after the event takes place in August.

More than two million people have already registered for tickets, which is expected to increase nearer the time, and tickets will officially go on sale in March.

Richard Ellis, chairman of Norfolk Tourism, said: 'There are tremendous opportunities for tourism in our great county over the coming years.

'This year will see a Royal wedding with all the attendant Norfolk connections plus the return of the Tour of the Britain to the county.

'In 2012, we have the combined attractions of the Queen's jubilee and the Olympic Games. These are tremendous opportunities for us to raise Norfolk's profile if we take concerted action.'

Do you run a tourism business? Take part in the EDP-Larking Gowen Tourism Business Survey at www.edp24.co.uk/tourismsurvey