“Olympic effect” boosting sports holiday bookings

Team GB’s phenomenal gold rush is inspiring Britons to book sports-focused holidays, according to a report in Travelweekly.com.
Fantastic wins by Jessica Ennis, Bradley Wiggins, Mo Farah and Victoria Pendleton’s outstanding performance all appear to be the reason behind a recent boost in activity holiday bookings.

The gold medals just seem to keep coming in for Team GB, and cyclist Sir Chris Hoy’s historic sixth gold medal means Britain is enjoying its best Olympic performance for more than a century. Hoy’s win at the Velodrome now puts him ahead of all other British Olympians in the history of the Games and Sir Steve Redgrave takes second place with five gold medals.

Team GB’s overall medal count is up to 48 so far (22 gold, 13 silver and 13 bronze) which already makes it the most successful Games for the UK since the London Olympics of 1908. The British Team have hung on to their third place spot and are second only to the US, with 70 medals (30 of them gold) and China, who have won 73 medals (34 gold).

Activity holiday specialists Mark Warner say they has seen a jump in enquiry levels for sailing, tennis and windsurfing holidays due to the ‘Olympic effect’, while adventure tour operator Explore expects more bookings than usual for family multi-activity breaks.

Even the world’s number one golfer, Luke Donald, says he’s been inspired by the British athletes. He managed to catch Andy Murray winning his gold medal against Roger Federer in the tennis, during a rain break at a golf match he was playing in.

Paying tribute to Team GB (who managed to bring in gold medals on “Super Saturday” last weekend) Donald said: "They’re all inspiring in their own way. Watching certainly has inspired me a lot in terms of having that wish to be there in four years, to have an opportunity to also win a gold medal."

Mark Warner’s head of marketing Tim Locke said: “We are noticing a growing trend for people wanting to combine fitness and well-being on holiday so we are putting this down to the Olympic effect.”

Bookings for the operator’s tennis courses are up 17% year on year, and sailing and windsurfing courses are up 20%.

Explore’s head of product strategy Peter Crane said children in particular were likely to be inspired to take up sport, which is expected to lead to rising demand for family sports-focused breaks. Explore’s cycling tours are up 40% compared to the same time last year.

Kuoni MD Derek Jones added: “There is normally a bounce-back in bookings after a sports event and I am sure people will look to do more activities, driven by the younger generation, after the Olympics. How that translates into travel plans is difficult to predict.”

The Olympic inspiration will be good news for timeshare resorts in Devon and Cornwall, particularly those resorts near main sailing and windsurfing destinations such as Newquay or Plymouth.

At Weymouth, an estimated 100,000 people showed up to watch yachtsman Ben Ainslie win a gold medal, despite his severe back pain (he writes about his win on his blog http://www.benainslie.com/news/view/london_2012_olympics_blog) . Weymouth has been basking in the spotlight over the last few days, inundated by the press and full crowds who all came along to support the GB Sailing Team.

Located in Dorset on the south coast of England, the Olympic Sailing venue Weymouth and Portland provides some of the best natural sailing waters in the UK, and the Olympic Sailing facilities will benefit local yachtsmen long after the London 2012 Games are over. 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 the berths area being used during the Olympics. It was the first Olympic sporting venue to be completed.

Amid all the Olympic excitement, there has been conflicting reports about travel trends this summer. Some say Britons got away early to come home in time to watch the whole of the Olympics, while other travel booking sites are reporting a spike in bookings post-Olympics, indicating that after being glued to the TV during the Games, many of us will finally be getting away.

The Olympics end on 12th August and the Paralympics start on 29th of this month. For the full Olympic and Paralympics schedules and results see http://www.london2012.com

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