London unveiled a huge clock in the middle of Trafalgar Square that count downs to the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. // © 2011 Devin Galaudet
March 17 marked the end of another successful Best of Britain and Ireland Travel Trade Forum held at the National Exhibition Centre (NEC) in Birmingham, England. The two-day event, better known as BoBI, attracted more than 2,500 buyers from 27 countries this year and brought together travel agents, tour operators, wholesalers, group organizers, tourism boards and other travel professionals to forge new relationships and reaffirm existing ones.
While the event brings together top travel products from the best U.K. suppliers, some developments stood out more than others. Here is what travel agents should keep their eye on for 2012:The Countdown Begins
Of course, the biggest chatter at BoBI, beyond Will and Kate, was about the pending London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. To commemorate the upcoming international event, a countdown clock was unveiled in the middle of Trafalgar Square to reign in the final 500 days before the Olympics.
While individual ticket options for the 2012 Games will be limited, and competitive, there are several U.S. authorized distributors. Other ticket options include Jet Set Sports, which is assigned to support U.S. corporate hospitality and CoSport, which is supplying hospitality packages that are commissionable for certified agents. CoSport will also sell individual Olympic Games tickets on a first-come, first-serve basis starting on June 28, for a limited time.www.cosport.com
Thomas Cook has also been announced as a tier two Olympic sponsor and can sell tickets, but only as part of larger “Game Break” packages that will be available to visitors. www.thomascooklondon2012.comCreative Scotland and London
For Scotland, 2012 will be the year of “Creative Scotland,” and will pick up where “Active Scotland 2011” finishes with festivals dedicated to music, film, dance and all forms of Scottish art.
Scotland’s creativity will coincide nicely with the upcoming London 2012 Festival, which culminates the last four years of London’s Cultural Olympiad with more than 1,000 events planned from June 21 to Sept. 9, 2012, the last day of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. A new website promoting London 2012 Festival goes live this summer.
www.london2012.com; www.bookingscotland.comMore Harry Potter
The upcoming release of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part Two” will bring the film series to an end this summer. However, Warner Brothers’ new Making of Harry Potter tour promises to keep fans lining up. The tour is scheduled to open at the film’s production headquarters, Warner Brothers Studios Leavesden, in the spring of 2012.
The new thee-hour tour will showcase original sets (including Hogwarts’ Great Hall and Dumbledore’s office), costumes, one-of-a-kind props (including the Sorting Hat) and a behind the scenes look at how the Harry Potter films came to be. Tickets must be booked in advance via the tours’ dedicated website.www.wbstudiotour.co.uk
BoBi 2012 is expected to return to Birmingham on March 14 and 15.