London 2012: Bi-annual cultural festival could be Olympic and Paralympic legacy

10:43 15 August 2012

Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt delivers a speech on the British tourist industry at the Tate Modern. Picture: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt delivers a speech on the British tourist industry at the Tate Modern. Picture: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

PA Wire/Press Association Images

A bi-annual cultural festival capitalising on the success of the 2012 Games could be held in London.

Culture secretary Jeremy Hunt revealed the idea in a speech he made yesterday at the Tate Modern about the tourism legacy of the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

He said: “Today, the whole country is riding high on a wave of global, Olympic excitement. In Shakespeare’s words: “On such a full sea are we now afloat… We must take the current when it serves, or lose our ventures”.

“In such a landmark year, with so much in our favour, isn’t now the time to go further, to make this Olympic year a real turning point for UK tourism? To step up, if you like, from being a creditable finalist to winning the gold medal.”

Mr Hunt said the Olympics should be “for Britain what Usain Bolt is for athletics – something that grabs the attention of the whole world and refuses to let it go”.

He continued: “We must use this extraordinary year to turbo-charge our tourism industry. To create jobs and prosperity on the back of a globally-enhanced reputation. And to show that when we talk about Olympic legacy, tourism is an opportunity we seized and ran with all the way to the finishing line.”

Among the plans Mr Hunt set out was to have a regular cultural festival in London.

He said: “Following this extraordinary year, I also want us to capitalise on the successes we have achieved in developing cultural tourism.

“Tony Hall and Ruth Mackenzie deserve enormous credit for putting together the London 2012 Festival, which has already been enjoyed by around 10million people across the country, with more opportunities still to come – surely the biggest and best Cultural Olympiad ever.

“How can we build on this? One promising idea is to have a London Biennale – a bi-annual London or UK-wide arts festival to celebrate the best of what we have to offer culturally.

“I have therefore asked Tony and Ruth to do a report for me on the feasibility of such a festival, how much it would cost and how it should be delivered.”

In the speech he also set out a series of goals for the tourism industry, including increasing the number of overseas visitors to the UK from just over 30million today to 40m by 2020 and “to exploit the extraordinary role that sport has as a magnet for tourism by exploiting the opportunities presented by hosting world cups in rugby league, rugby union and cricket, not to mention the Ryder Cup and the Champions League final, the Commonwealth Games in 2014 and the World Athletics Championships in the Olympic stadium in 2017”.

He said £2m would be invested in a domestic tourism advertising campaign next year, following on from a campaign this year which featured Rupert Grint, Julie Walters, Stephen Fry and Michelle Dockery.

Mr Hunt also said there would be a focus on marketing the UK in China next year, with an £8m focus on the country.

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