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Lowestoft and Waveney can benefit from London 2012 Games

PUBLISHED: 09:58 18 March 2011

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A NEW Olympics 'masterplan', outlining how Lowestoft and Waveney can reap the benefits of the 2012 Games and Paralympic Games in London, was unveiled by tourism chiefs this week.

With the world’s biggest sporting event taking place on the region’s doorstep – and attracting tens of thousands of foreign visitors to the UK – they say that “many opportunities” exist for north Suffolk.

A Waveney District Council report – Making the Most of the Paralympics and Olympics – suggests the district can tap into the “major tourism benefits” before and after the games, and, in the longer term, it can benefit from the games’ legacies for years to come, by “raising aspirations for our younger generation, increasing participation in sport, physical activity and volunteering, improving community cohesion and cultural activity.”

On Tuesday, a cabinet meeting will consider a recommendation is to “adopt the proposed action plan to support Waveney in maximising the benefits of the 2012 Olympic and Paralympics Games.”

The report’s author Asa Morrison, Waveney’s principal service manager for tourism, culture and sports, told The Journal: “There are lots of things, which have been going on for some time and the purpose of this report is to bring together and coordinate all the activities in Waveney focused on the Games, so that in partnership, Waveney can maximise the benefits and create a lasting legacy from the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

“We have a diverse mix of 25-30 people all sitting round the table, and they all come from the community, schools, education sector, the local authority, Suffolk Sport, Waveney gym club and so forth – it is really helpful.”

The Waveney 2012 working group has established an action plan and a separate ‘legacy action plan’ with support from other organisations, including the Waveney Heritage Forum, Active Waveney Sports Partnership, Waveney Tourism Forum and Waveney Play Partnership. A total of 22 objectives have been put forward on the action plan, including local people being nominated to take part in the 2012 Torch Relay.

With the Waveney Gymnastics Club in Lowestoft boasting a purpose-built, world class gymnastics facility, which has been approved as a London 2012 Pre Games Training Camp venue, they have also been heavily involved in the action plan. As the only sports club in north Suffolk to gain this honour, meaning its facilities will be on offer to international teams as they prepare ahead of the games, six months ago the Canadian Gymnastics Federation signed a ‘memorandum of understanding’ confirming it plans to use the gym in the build up to the games. And earlier this month Australia’s Olympic athletes also expressed an interest.

Mr Morrison added: “It is once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. The Games present an unique chance to bring communities together as they share experiences an opportunity for celebration, which should lead to greater community cohesion.

“Waveney’s tourism economy currently stands at a healthy £255m, supporting over 5,000 jobs. Currently, less than 2pc of the Waveney visitor economy consists of international visitors, representing a real opportunity to grow and develop international tourism in Waveney.”

Mr Morrison said he remained hopeful that the Olympic torch relay would come to Waveney. The final details of the route are expected to be announced in coming weeks.

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