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Tuesday, 11 January, 2000, 09:42 GMT
Sport stars to aid UK tourism

Tim Henman could rally support for Wimbledon

Britain's sporting heroes are being urged to become tourism ambassadors in a drive to attract more overseas visitors.

Putting Manchester on the map
Great sporting institutions like Lord's, Cardiff's Millennium Stadium and Wimbledon will be promoted to nurture a growing market for sports tourism.

The initiatives - announced on Tuesday by the British Tourist Authority and the government - are aimed at luring more foreign tourists to watch, play and experience sport in the UK.

Top British stars are being asked to give up two to three hours of their time while competing abroad to help local British tourist offices promote the UK.

Lords: Stately home of cricket
Jeff Hamblin, BTA chief executive, said: "Sport is both a mainstay of British life and a magnet for tourists worldwide.

"But there is plenty of scope to increase its global pulling power and help Britain to extend tourism throughout the country and throughout the year."

He added: "The BTA has already been successful in bringing the film and tourism industries together by promoting the benefits of film tourism through our Movie Map campaign.

"Now we are aiming to do the same with sport and once more, we are pleased to have government support."

Tessa Sanderson: "Wonderful idea"
Tessa Sanderson, 43, who won an Olympic Gold in the javelin for Britain in the 1984 Los Angeles games said: "I think this is a wonderful idea."

Another former Olympic champion, Mary Peters, who won gold in the pentathlon at Munich in 1972, said: "This is a fantastic initiative."

Ms Peters, deputy chairman of the Northern Ireland Tourist Board, added: "We have attracted a number of big sporting events to Northern Ireland and if we can entice competition with our small population, imagine what the rest of the UK can do."

Minister for Sport Kate Hoey and Tourism Minister Janet Anderson were at the scheme's London launch.

The action plan aims to:

  • Co-ordinate work on sports tourism by a Sports Tourism Forum made up of figures from sports governing bodies, the tourism industry and sporting champions.

  • Mount an international marketing campaign to attract more sports tourists.

  • Encourage British sports stars to be "tourism ambassadors".

  • Help with the bidding for, and marketing of, major international sporting events.

  • Give advice and marketing support to UK and overseas travel trade and event organisers.

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See also:
23 Sep 99 |  UK
Tourism hit by football fever
15 Jun 99 |  Entertainment
Follow the stars
23 Nov 99 |  UK
Britons 'give tourists cold shoulder'
19 Oct 99 |  Guide to the UK Government
Department of Culture, Media and Sport

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