Olympic Legacy: What’s Next for the UK Hotel Industry?

As the dust settles on the Olympic Games closing ceremony, exhausted hoteliers turn their attention to the Olympic legacy and ask what is next for the UK hotel industry?

Certainly, the strongest affects will be felt in London, where strong investment has secured the Olympic legacy. According to figures from PricewaterhouseCoopers, the budget hotel sector has increased room supply by 60% and the luxury sector has grown 33% since the announcement of the Olympic Games in the capital.

Data from TravelClick reveals strong demand for London hotels immediately after the Olympic Games closing ceremony, with occupancy improving by 24.2% on last year. Rates are also up by 25.2% between 24 and 27 August 2012, reaching £128.59.

However, this growth has taken place against the backdrop of a troubled economic climate – a scenario that is likely to increase competition.

“Many operators are positive about London’s prospects after the Games, encouraged by the global awareness of the Capital as a destination and the ongoing improvements in infrastructure,” explained PwC head of hospitality and leisure research, Liz Hall.

“Others, however, have voiced concerns about the supply spike and how it will be absorbed. If there is a post-Games travel dip, trading could get very difficult – especially in East London.

“The challenge for London’s hoteliers after the Games will be how to differentiate themselves in such a competitive market off the back of the Games feel good factor. London does however, have a highly profitable hotel sector and most cities around the world would love to have even a fraction of its success!”

Long-Term Olympic Legacy

The real question is the significance of the ROI on the Olympic venues: will they continue to attract tourism in the years after the Olympic Games?

A review of the legacy plans of the Olympic venues suggests that their tourism potential will be retained.

The Olympic legacy plans for the major Olympic venues are as follows:

Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, Stratford, London

With Her Majesty the Queen, the British Olympic Association and the International Olympic Committee’s permission, the site of the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics will be renamed ‘the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park’ in 2013. The renaming of the park aims to reflect a real tangible legacy from the 2012 Games and echoes plans for making the Park one of Europe’s premier visitor destinations and a new thriving community with family homes, jobs, and sport and leisure activities at its heart.

Aquatics Centre, Olympic Park, Stratford, London

The Aquatics Centre has the capacity of 17,500 and with its 160m length and 80m width it has a longer single span than Heathrow’s Terminal 5. The venue features a 50m competition pool, a 25m competition diving pool, a 50m warm-up pool and a ‘dry’ warm-up area for divers. After the Olympics, the Aquatics Centre will be transformed into a facility for the local community, clubs and schools as well as elite swimmers. The venue will be operated by Greenwich Leisure Limited. The two temporary wings will be removed but there will be possibility to increase venue capacity during major competitions. A crèche, family-friendly changing facilities, café and a new public plaza will also be built for the community’s benefit.

Bmx Track, Olympic Park, Stratford, London

Located right next to the Velodrome in the north of the Olympic Park, the BMX Track covers an area of 160m by 90m making it slightly larger than a football pitch. The track features an 8m high ramp at the start, followed by jumps, bumps and tightly banked corners. The BMX Track will host the London 2012 BMX Competition. After the Games, the temporary seating will be removed and the BMX Track will be reconfigured to make it suitable for riders of all ages and abilities. The BMX Track and Velodrome will be joined by a new road cycle circuit and mountain bike course to create the Lee Valley VeloPark, combining cycling facilities across all disciplines in one cycling ‘hub’. The facility will be owned, managed and funded by the Lee Valley Regional Park Authority.

Copper Box, Olympic Park, Stratford, London

The Copper Box will host some of the most exciting indoor sports competitions during the London 2012 Olympics including boxing, handball, badminton etc. The venue’s flexibility allows seating to retract to change the floor size facilitating different activities both during and after the Games. Built with sustainability as the main priority, the Copper Box features state of the art innovations including a roof fitted with 88 light pipes that allow natural light into the venue, reducing the demand for electric lights by 40% annually. After the Games, the Copper Box will become a multi-functional sports centre for community use, athlete training and events, operated by Greenwich Leisure Limited. Its flexible design and retractable seating will make it suitable for activities ranging from international competition to community sports, and for a wide range of indoor sports, including basketball, handball, badminton, boxing, martial arts, netball, table tennis, wheelchair rugby and volleyball. A health and fitness club with changing facilities and a cafe for use by the local community are also planned. Temporary areas used for the media and technology equipment during the Games will be converted to provide extra spectator facilities. The athletes’ changing rooms will be adapted to create more family-friendly and accessible changing areas.

Olympic Stadium, Olympic Park, Stratford, London

The Stadium is designed to be flexible enough to accommodate a number of different requirements and capacities in legacy. It will retain athletics at its core, and also be a venue for other sporting, cultural and community events. It will be the venue for the 2015 IAAF World Championships. The London Legacy Development Corporation and Mayor of London Boris Johnson have taken the decision to keep the Stadium under public ownership.

Riverbank Arena, Olympic Park, Stratford, London

After the Games, the pitches at the Riverbank Arena will move to the north of the Olympic Park, which will be renamed to Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, joining the group of permanent sporting facilities at Eton Manor. It will have 3,000 permanent seats with the ability to increase to up to 15,000 for major events.

Velodrome, Olympic Park, Stratford, London

Legacy was at the forefront of the design and build of the Velodrome as well. After the Games, the venue will be handed over to the Lee Valley Regional Park Authority and form the heart of a new VeloPark for use by the local community, clubs and elite athletes. The VeloPark will also include the reconfigured BMX track, a new mountain bike track and a new road cycle circuit, as well as a cafe, bike hire and cycle workshop facilities.

Arcelormittal Orbit, Olympic Park, London

Designed in as collaboration between Anish Kapoor and Cecil Balmond and supported by ArcelorMital and the Mayor of London, the ArcelorMital Orbit is the artistic structure commemorating the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics. The monumental £22.7 million structure will be used as a visitor attraction both during and after the Games and is aimed to bring an influx of tourism to the future Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

Emirates Airline, Greenwich, London

The Emirates Air Line will carry up to 2,500 people an hour across the Thames in each direction, a number which would otherwise take 30 buses an hour to achieve. Built with the Olympic influx of visitors in mind, the cable car will link local communities, improve access to visitor destination either side of the river and speed up river crossings even after the London 2012 buzz dies down. The ‘airline’ will provide direct access between the Greenwich Peninsula and the Royal Docks in five minutes with cabins travelling every 30 seconds, enable direct links between the O2 arena and the ExCeL Centre, operate an accessible and bike-friendly service, act as a new low-emission form of Oyster transport and act as a visitor attraction for east London. The structure will further encourage regeneration at The Royal Docks and Greenwich Peninsula, each a dedicated enterprize zone, with plans for a floating village, SS Robin and Siemens Technology Centre to be opened on the north side of the river.

Westfield Stradford City, Stratford, London

As the gateway to London’s Olympic Park, Westfield Stratford City is part of one of the largest urban regeneration projects ever undertaken in the UK. Seventy per cent of spectators will pass through Westfield Stratford City en route to the Olympic Park Games venues. Located just 20 minutes from central London’s tourism attractions, and at the heart of the Olympic site, Westfield Stratford City is perfectly placed to maximize this expanding tourism opportunity and provide a much needed new commercial, shopping and entertainment district for the area. Westfield Stratford City neighbours the Park and will be a core component of the lasting benefits delivered for East London for decades after the end of the London 2012 Games. Along with a thriving programme of Park events and attractions and the new commercial and entertainment hub of Westfield Stratford City, Stratford is set to develop into one of London’s top visitor and leisure destinations.

Lee Valley White Water Centre, Waltham Cross, Hertfordshire

The two courses and the facilities building will remain, with the venue once again becoming a world-class canoeing and kayaking facility for people of all levels of ability, and a major leisure attraction for white water rafting. Following the end of the London 2012 Games, the venue will be owned, funded and managed by Lee Valley Regional Park Authority. It will also offer an extensive sports development programme, run in partnership with the British Canoe Union. The 2015 Canoe Slalom World Championships will be held at the Lee Valley White Water Centre.

Weymouth Bay & Portland Harbour, Weymouth, Dorset

Located in Dorset on the south coast of England, Weymouth and Portland provides some of the best natural sailing waters in the UK, with facilities on land to match. Weymouth and Portland already had world-class sailing facilities, but some enhancements were needed to ensure the venue was suitable for the Olympic Sailing completion. The improvements to the existing facilities at Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy (WPNSA) include a new permanent 250m slipway used for launching and landing boats and 70 new moorings. A new commercial 560-berth marina has also been built nearby and 250 of these berths will be used during the Games. The ticketed spectator area at Weymouth and Portland is called The Nothe. The National Sailing Academy will benefit from the improved facilities that the Games will leave behind, providing a state-of-the-art facility for elite training, competition and community use. Also, soaring high above the Weymouth resort – the new Weymouth SeaLife Tower will provide up to 69 passengers at a time with stunning panoramic views of the Jurassic coastline – The UK’s only World Heritage Site, and out over Weymouth Bay, Chesil Beach and Portland. Turning through a full 360 degrees and climbing to over 170 feet above sea level this is an experience not to be missed which is open from June to the general public.

Hadleigh Farm And Country Park, Essex

Essex County Council in partnership with the Salvation Army are currently seeking planning permission to provide new and improved recreational trails and visitor facilities on land at Hadleigh Farm and Hadleigh Country Park. The Hadleigh Legacy Project will bring together and bring to life the heritage of Hadleigh Farm and Country Park alongside the legacy of the Olympic Mountain Bike course by retaining and adapting the Olympic Mountain Bike course for use by the public, protecting and enhancing and improving the wider network of trails and paths for a range of users, protecting and enhancing projects to protect and enhance the natural and historic environment, and improving facilities for the community and visitors to area. At the heart of the proposals are plans to improve and enhance the network of existing paths and trails across Hadleigh Country Park and Hadleigh Farm, improving access for walkers, cyclists, mountain biking, runners and horse riders. The trail network will include the adapted Olympic Mountain Bike course. This will be connected to the Country Park and the wider area by a network of multi-user trails for walkers and cyclists. New walking trails with interpretation panels, enhanced horse riding trails and cross-country running trails, within the Country Park will also be provided.

Old Trafford, Manchester

Affectionately nicknamed the ‘Theatre of Dreams’ by football legend Bobby Charlton, Old Trafford is home to Manchester United Football Club. The ground has frequently hosted major domestic and international cup matches as a neutral venue, and welcomed several England international fixtures while the new Wembley Stadium was under construction. As well as football, rugby union, rugby league and boxing events have been held at Old Trafford. The stadium has recently been expanded to 76,000 seats, making it the second largest football stadium in the UK and the third largest London 2012 venue, after Wembley Stadium and the new Olympic Stadium. After the games, the stadium will continue to host Manchester United matches, and will also be a host venue for the 2015 Rugby World Cup in England. Old Trafford will also offer standard tours and Legend tours, where the tour is conducted by a past Manchester United player. You can also book a guided walking tour with a focus on football, including ‘The Football History of Manchester’, ‘Football Pub Walk’ and ‘George Best’s Manchester’. Along with all this, the new National Football Museum has just been opened where drama, history, skill, art, style, faith and passion revolve around one thing – football! Whether you are a die-hard fan planning a visit with your family or a casual tourist on a weekend break to the great city of Manchester, the world’s biggest and best football museum is an unforgettable experience. The National Football Museum is on free-admission basis and opens its doors to the general public on 6th July.

Eton Dorney, Windsor, Buckinghamshire

The Park and Nature Conservation Area are open for public use all year round except for days when there are other events taking place e.g. triathlons. These generally take place at the weekend. The venue will re-open for public access after the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympic games and will enable the public to take part in a variety of sporting events including triathlons, duathlons, aquathlons, half-marathons, road races of 5 or 10 kilometres, roller skiing (cross-country skiing without snow), Dragon Boat Racing and open water swimming.



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