By Marcus Leach

With all eyes set to be on London for the start of the Olympics tomorrow (Friday) John Longworth, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce, has said this is an ideal opportunity to showcase the best of Britain.

His comments coincide with the announcement of the largest set of trade and investment events ever held in this country. The events start today (Thursday) with the Government’s Global Investment Conference. The conference is the first of a series of global business summits being held in London to showcase the UK during the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

“The London 2012 Olympics is a fantastic opportunity to showcase the best of Britain and make it clear to visitors and spectators from across the globe that we are ready to trade the world," Mr Longworth said.

“We believe the Olympics will provide a timely confidence boost for businesses, particularly in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors, and for the UK economy as a whole. The “feel-good factor” surrounding the Games is especially critical in the wake of the very poor GDP statistics released earlier in the week.

“The relaxation of Sunday trading laws will help many businesses reap the benefits from the influx of tourists. This eight week period will serve as a useful trial to provide evidence as to whether the relaxation of Sunday trading rules on a permanent basis would provide a boost to the economy in the long term.

“However, we cannot be complacent and assume that the Olympics will be positive for all companies. There is a chance that productivity could suffer as a result of congested transport networks, staffing disruptions, plus delays and cancellations to key deliveries. Olympic organisers and government ministers must stay in close contact with business to minimise disruptions, and ensure that the Games are more of a help than a hindrance to the UK economy.

“Finally, we also must ensure that we present the best possible face to our guests, particularly at our airports. We need to be ready to welcome travellers 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, to demonstrate that our doors are truly open to tourism, investment and trade. Border delays put our reputation and future prosperity at risk.”

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