Olympics and Jubilee 'boost international opinion of UK'

Olympic stadium during opening ceremony The survey said the Olympics helped improve Britain's international standing

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The Olympics, Paralympics and Diamond Jubilee have improved how the UK is viewed by other countries, a survey for the British Council has found.

About two-thirds of 9,000 adults polled in 11 countries said Britain had done a good job of running the Games, and 44% said it had a greater world influence.

A third of people said the Games had made them more likely to visit the UK.

But business groups said more needed to be done to ensure Britain's popularity continued in the long term.

The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) called on the government to do more to boost British exports, while the British Retail Consortium said the Games had done little to boost retail sales.

World view

The Council commissioned researchers at Ipsos Mori to ask thousands of adults in 11 key overseas economies including the USA, Brazil, China and India for their view of Britain following the major national and international events of 2012.

Among the findings:

  • 64% agreed the UK did a good job of organising the Olympics, while 6% disagreed
  • Some 35% agreed the Olympics had made the UK a more attractive place to study or do business, while 18% disagreed
  • 36% agreed they would be more likely to visit Britain as a result of the Games, while 18% disagreed
  • 31% agreed the Diamond Jubilee had improved the world view of the UK, while 3% disagreed
  • 52% believed UK people were friendlier than anticipated - 5% thought less friendly
  • 56% had a more positive perception of how the UK views disability, while 3% said it was more negative
  • 54% had a more positive perception of the UK's arts scene - 3% said it was more negative
  • 46% said the Games had made them think more positively about the UK's sense of humour - 5% more negatively

John Worne, director of strategy at the Council - which aims to build relationships for the UK around the world - said the results were testament to what "Team GB" could do when it "pulls together".

"Without a huge global event like the Olympics next year, we need to keep on finding smart new ways to share our soft power assets: English, our education system, our vibrant arts scene and our entrepreneurial spirit," he said.

Suren Thiru, UK economics director at the BCC, said the challenge facing the UK was to develop a "long term economic legacy" post-2012.

"One of the lessons from the Games was that perception is important. We need to build a positive perception of the UK, and more must be done by the government to promote trade and investment."

Diamond Jubilee celebrations on the Mall in London The Diamond Jubilee celebrations created a boost in retail sales

While London 2012 did little to boost trade in the retail sector, the BRC said the Queen's Diamond Jubilee celebrations had created a "bunting boost" to sales in June.

BRC spokeswoman Mandy Murphy said: "The Games may not have translated into extra sales, but they did give a welcome boost to consumer confidence and showcase London and other Olympic locations."

Meanwhile, tourism agency Visit Britain said a strategy was under development which aimed to drive visitors toward the UK as a holiday destination.

It has predicted that the UK will attract about one million extra overseas visitors in 2013, an increase of 3%, who will contribute around £19bn to the British economy.

Spokesman Mark Di-Toro said: "These spectacular events created a once-in-a-lifetime year for the British and a year in which our country has never looked so good to viewers around the world.

"That publicity will be harnessed by Visit Britain to drive visitors here in the years to come."


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  • rate this

    Comment number 187.

    Let's not over analyse this. I'm proud to be British and always have been. The Olympic Games and Diamond Jubilee demonstrated to the world what a great nation we are. A great year for a great country and for all it's ills, I wouldn't live anywhere else. I don't need stats to tell me what I already know.

  • rate this

    Comment number 182.

    The Olympics is the greatest show on Earth (and cost is also included in that label @ £12B). It's a once in a lifetime event for a lot of Brits and we enjoyed it, deservedly so. As to all the political spin put on legacy, etc. most is twoddle, and most of us know it is. I took up running, and do regular half-marathons now, maybe not solely Olympics connected, but it didn't do any harm either..

  • rate this

    Comment number 161.

    Unfortunately the Olympics has not benefitted the UK, it has only benefitted London.

    The rest of us (I am from south-west England) have to fund London's lavish displays of arrogance with our taxes, but we do not see any benefit here. London will reap the rewards, and possibly Yorkshire (the Wiggins effect - well done Wiggo), but the rest of us have to muddle along regardless.

  • rate this

    Comment number 144.

    If Great Britain only becomes Visible to the rest of the World because of a Two weeks Sporting event then we are in a truly sorry state.

    By this Time next year the London Olympic games will be a distant memory and once Again Britain will become another forgotten Country within the EU.

    Does not bode well does it?

  • rate this

    Comment number 120.

    It may be an image boost, but those who have to live here know we have massive social and economic problems and growing inequality. When i think of Britain i think of past generations who made this country great, now all that is left are Crooked MPs, Crooked bankers and a working class replaced by an underclass. Great Britain, no Average Britain in my eyes.


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