By Gary Anderson at Westminster Abbey in London

July 5 - HUGH ROBERTSONThe Olympic Rings logo has seen its brand recognition across the world rise to its highest ever ranking following the London 2012 Games, according to Hugh Robertson, Britain's Minister for Sport and Tourism.

Robertson (pictured top), speaking at an event here hosted by VisitBritain examining the impact of London 2012 on the image of the country and inbound tourism, claimed International Olympic Committee (IOC) officials had told him that Olympic brand recognition had risen from 92 per cent before the Games in the British capital to 97 per cent after them.

"The President, Jacque Rogge told me that the [Olympic Rings] are now better recognised than Coca Cola, and that has come on the back of London," said Robertson, who had just returned from Lausanne where he had been supporting Glasgow 2018's unsuccessful bid to host the 2018 Summer Youth Olympics, which were awarded yesterday to Buenos Aires.

He also claimed that members of the IOC continue to praise London for its hosting of the Games in 2012.

"The very first thing that every single member still says to me is, 'Well done for hosting the best ever Olympic and Paralympic Games'," said Robertson.

Jacques Rogge Opening Ceremony London 2012IOC President Jacque Rogge, pictured here at the Opening Ceremony of London 2012, has claimed that the Olympic rings logo is now more recognisable than Coca Cola

It is not often that a politician admits they got something wrong, but that is what Robertson did when he acknowledged that he did not foresee the impact of London 2012 on Britain as a whole.

"A year ago I would have laid out a number of things that I thought the Games were going to do for this country, but it's perfectly apparent to me that I got it wrong," he said.

"I got it wrong because I completely underestimated the extent to which hosting these Games has caused people internationally to look at this country very differently."

Robertson was joined by VisitBritain chief executive Sandie Dawe, who revealed there was an overall increase of one per cent in inbound tourists to Britain in 2012 compared to 2011, leading to a four per cent increase in spend over the same period.

VistBritain, Britain's national tourism agency and is funded by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, launched a campaign the day after London 2012 ended with the aim of using the interest generated by the global exposure of London and Britain before and during the Games to generate increased trade, investment and tourism.

Utilising global measuring tools such as the International Passenger Survey and the Nation Brand Index, an independent global survey measuring how countries are viewed, VisitBritain gathered data in the build up to London 2012 in order to measure its impact on tourism.

Dawe said that this process began not long after London was awarded the Olympics and Paralympics in Singapore in 2005, which coincidentally will see tomorrow July 6 mark the eighth anniversary of that decision.

London wins Olympic bidMembers of the successful London 2012 bid team including Sir Steve Redgrave and Daley Thompson (centre) celebrate following the announcement of London as host city for Olympic and Paralympic Games, in Singapore.

"We had a hunch that [the hosting of the Olympic and Paralympic Games] would resonate with countries that don't know us very well and that it would put us on their radar," she said.

VisitBritain's research included adding a question to the Nation Brand Index asking people; "Does the fact that London is hosting the Olympics and Paralympics in 2012, make you more interested in travelling to Britain?"

"The research that did come back showed that the people that said 'Yes' to that question were from countries like India, China, Mexico, Malaysia and Indonesia; countries that don't really know us very well, and the fact that we were going to be hosting the Olympics really put us on their radar and peaked their interest.

"We were starting to get an indication of the power of this event and what it does."

A total of 31.1 million tourists visited Britain in 2012, and while there was a five per cent drop in numbers visiting London in August 2012, Dawe pointed to the fact that this is common for any Olympic host city while the Games are running, before adding that there was a nine per cent increase in spend in London during this time.

"Olympics can act as a big displacement in terms of regular holiday makers coming to the city because they tend to avoid the city," she said.

"People don't have a ticket, and they might decide they're not coming to the Games, which means they will not come at all."

During July, August and September 2012, when the Games were running, a total of 871,000 visits from overseas were connected to London 2012.

At total of 685,000 of these were from people attending an official ticketed event at the Olympic or Paralympic Games, spending a total of £925 million ($1.4 billion/€1.1 billion); while 186,000 were for secondary Games purposes such as live free to view events or cultural events related to the London 2012 festival, according to figures used by VisitBritain.

Olympic Park LondonSome 685,000 visitors to London in 2012 attended official ticketed events at the Olympic and Paralympic Games, many of which took place in the Olympic Park in Stratford

Following the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, Britain has moved up one place to fourth in the Nation Brand Index.

Visit Britain also says that 99 per cent of visitors said that they felt welcome during July through September 2012, while 63 per cent said that the Olympics has increased their interest in visiting the United Kingdom and 75 per cent agreed that they now want to see more than London.

"It was always going to be the case that we were going to use the Olympics in London as a global television and digital advertisement for the whole of Britain and not just London," said Dawe.

Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]

Related Stories