The “L” word has become so much part of London 2012 rhetoric that it’s in danger of becoming a cliché. Most of us have stopped thinking about what legacy actually means, or we interpret it from our own personal perspective. And yet legacy – the commitment to bring a range of lasting benefits – was the core proposition behind our successful Olympic bid. In addition to regenerating a particularly disadvantaged part of the capital, the legacy aimed to benefit local communities and to boost inbound tourism.
The aim to inspire a generation of young people to take part in sport has seen unprecedented focus on community facilities across the country. And the UK’s capability to host future large-scale sporting events has already reaped benefits in the shape of the Rugby League World Cup 2013, the Commonwealth Games and Ryder Cup in 2014 and the Rugby World Cup 2015.
But the events industry specifically will benefit from a number of valuable legacy opportunities. To start, we have some fabulous new venues and attractions to propose and work with. And the focus on creating a blueprint for sustainable structures, together with unrivalled health and safety and environmental standards, will bolster our reputation.
The rise in inbound business tourism to Sydney, Barcelona and Athens in the years following their Games hosting, permits us to anticipate the same halo effect.
And let’s not forget the Cultural Olympiad. Its culmination, the London 2012 Festival, sees 12,000 events and performances. Everything from street arts, circus, carnivals and physical theatre will feature – shining the spotlight on creative teams, event producers and cutting edge digital technology.
The enthusiasm generated by such spectacles will swell the next generation of events professionals. And the skills and experience gained by those who worked on and around the Games will enhance our industry’s human capital no end.
That’s all good. But as a sector we mustn’t take this potential for granted.
The challenge will be for stakeholders to collectively develop an Olympic Legacy manifesto to keep that flame burning and to set benchmarks for future event activation in the UK. Roll on 2012, and its many legacies.