By Max Clarke

More than half of UK businesses feel they are on-track to make most of the £2bn London 2012 Games windfall, a survey shows.

Figures from Visit Britain suggest that the influx of visitors next summer will contribute an extra £2bn to the UK’s UK’s travel, hospitality and leisure industries. Figures from professional services giant, Deloitte, suggest that 55% of businesses in the sectors have made the necessary preparations for thrive during the crucial time, though more than a third remain ill prepared.

Staff availability recurred from the findings of the survey as the single biggest headache for employers. Alarmingly, just 14% of respondents have made necessary adaptations to their rosters to ensure key staff availability during the Games.

“The number of visitors arriving into the UK for London 2012 will be unprecedented. Most operators in the sector are heavily dependent on the ability of staff to be in a certain location and are vulnerable if there is any disruption in the supply chain. Having the sufficient levels of staff in place to manage passenger and visitor expectations will be essential and I would urge businesses in the travel, hospitality and leisure sector to act now to ensure they are ready to receive their customers and guests. London 2012 is an immovable deadline and businesses in this sector must recognise that they now need to act quickly to make the most of the opportunity.”

In addition to gearing up for opportunities at Games-time, businesses must also consider how they will cope with the possibility of disruption to their daily operations. 39% of businesses in the sector have reviewed or intend to review their crisis response plans, while 35% will re-evaluate their holiday policies.

“There is undoubtedly a lot for the travel industry to consider:” Deloitte’s travel, hospitality and tourism head, Graham Pickett, said: “the airspace over the South East of the country will be very congested presenting the airlines and airports with a number of challenges, not least aircraft and slot availability.

“Away from the airports, traffic on public transport and roads will be significantly heightened around the Games. In addition, it’s also important for travel operators not to forget those trying to leave the UK for pre-booked holidays during the six weeks of competition.”

Tourism in the UK forms a £100bn industry, contributing inexcess of 8% of the total GDP. The figure, thanks in part to the Royal Wedding as well as the lowered value of Sterling, has been on the increase. This boost at a time of persistent inflation and low consumer confidence provides a lifeline for businesses across all sectors.

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