Region is praised for 'perfect' Torch start
By Western Morning News | Friday, May 25, 2012, 05:30
The arrival of the Olympic flame in Cornwall provided the "best possible" start to its 8,000-mile relay across the nation, according to the Government.
The public line the streets of Falmouth as the Olympic torch relay arrives. Picture: Ben Birchall
In a statement declaring his pride at events so far, Tourism Minister John Penrose said South West was playing a fundamental role in supporting the London 2012 Games.
He said the flame's arrival at RNAS Culdrose, near Helston, on Friday in the company of international footballer David Beckham and the start of the relay from Land's End on Saturday could not have been handled better.
"The South West has given the torch the perfect start," said Mr Penrose.
"I would like to thank all those who have made it happen – London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games, the police, the military, local authorities, a host of other organisations – and of course the torchbearers themselves.
"In particular, I want to thank the people of the South West for embracing the Torch so enthusiastically.
"The scenes in towns, villages and cities from Land's End to Cheltenham have been truly remarkable and a great advert for the UK and the Games."
Mr Penrose added that since London won the bid to host this year's Olympics, the South West had made a "great contribution" to the Games.
According to figures compiled from a number of different sources, the start of the relay in the Westcountry has had an instant positive effect, with a 36% increase in international visitors to Visit Cornwall's official website compared to the same period last year.
There have also been more than 270 local sporting, educational and community projects officially inspired by London 2012, while nearly 2,000 schools are taking part in the Get Set programme to celebrate Olympic and Paralympic values.
According to police, more than 270,000 lined the streets of Devon and Cornwall to welcome the Olympic torch on Saturday and Sunday.
In Falmouth alone, police said the population "doubled" and early estimates suggest a boost in consumer spending of £886,600.
More than £12 million worth of Olympic park contracts were won by businesses based in the South West. They include Riise in Plymouth, which provided underfloor heating for the athlete's village, and B&B Moulds, near Ilminster in Somerset, which supported the concrete casting on the Olympic Stadium.
Mr Penrose said the Olympic effect would be a lasting one for businesses in the region.
"Whether it's hosting training camps, staging amazing community events, or bringing the Olympic spirit into our schools, the region is taking London 2012 to its heart," he said.
"Local businesses in the South West have made a vital contribution to the London 2012 Games – from concrete for the stadium to under-floor heating for the Olympic Village, the region is leaving its mark in a big way."