Press release: 22 May 2012

Following Cornwall’s moment in the international media spotlight as the host of the start of the Olympic Torch Relay, Visit Cornwall, the official tourist board for the county, anticipates an increase in overseas visitor awareness and interest.

Of Cornwall’s annual 4.5 million visitors, 6% are currently from overseas* and tourism leaders expect to see this figure inflate thanks to images of Cornwall and the successful start of the Olympic Torch Relay being beamed across the globe, catapulting the county into the international spotlight and highlighting it as a world-class visitor destination.

Hundreds of international broadcasters, photographers and journalists descended on the county with representation from as far away as Australia and South America, generating in excess of £5 million worth of media coverage and reaching up to a billion people.

Particular highlights include the broadcaster, Chinese Central Television (CCTV), which aired its footage across China and the ABC Network in Australia who discussed Cornwall’s wider visitor appeal in an interview with Malcolm Bell, Head of VisitCornwall, the Cornwall Development Company tourism service. Film crews also came from Japan, Brazil, the Netherlands, Finland, France, Mexico, Poland, Asia and Hungary.

The moment three times Olympic Gold medallist, Ben Ainslie, started the Torch Relay at Lands End marked the key media occasion and the visiting media continued to follow the Torch as it passed through Cornwall with Marazion, Falmouth, Truro, the Eden Project and the Tamar Bridge being particular highlights. Interest in Cornwall was also rife in the lead up to May 19, including two visits by crews from the Japan Broadcasting Corporation (NHK) to pre-shoot community and business preparations for the Torch Relay. These were edited into three separate four minute news pieces, transmitted to up to thirty million viewers across Japan prior to the event.

Malcolm Bell commented: “Hosting the start of the Olympic Torch Relay has been invaluable to Cornwall’s tourism industry in terms of awareness and we couldn’t have wished for a better marketing opportunity. The reach has been immense, and thanks to this once-in-a-lifetime event there are now millions of people across the world who have been introduced to the beauty of the county and now may consider visiting.

“The opportunity now lies in building on this success to maximise the legacy for Cornwall and to realise the potential of Cornwall becoming an international market leader for tourism whilst attracting more overseas visitors.”

The effects of the weekend are already being seen with an increase in international visitors to the official online visitor guide, of up to 36%**.

Visit Cornwall’s optimism for the long-term benefits of the Torch Relay is also being echoed by tourism businesses across Cornwall as Tamsin Loveless, Head of Communications at the National Maritime Museum Cornwall in Falmouth adds: “Being involved in the Torch Relay will help lift Falmouth’s awareness on an international scale. We know it’s stunning, we indulge in the fantastic restaurants, play on the beaches and discover the incredible attractions like the Maritime Museum. The torch relay offered us the chance to show others what we have, inviting them to share our part of the world with all.”