Only Britons obsessed with weather: UK tourism chief

Wed Jul 18, 2012 10:49am EDT
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By Avril Ormsby

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's tourism chief said recent wet weather would not deter visitors from other countries and would not dampen its hopes of benefiting from the London Olympics.

The public body VisitBritain wants to use the Games to showcase the country, enticing an extra 4.6 million visitors between 2011 and 2015.

The country has been enduring floods during record summer rainfall, and sports fans have been warned they may need their rubber "Wellington" boots to visit some Olympic venues.

"It's only the Brits that have a complete and utter obsession really with our weather, I think the rest of the world is slightly less interested," VisitBritain's Chief Executive Sandie Dawe told reporters to quiet murmuring of dissent in the international audience.

"Frankly, people don't come here to lie on the beach, that's not our offer, they come for culture, heritage and sightseeing. They come all times of year - we have a temperate climate."

Canadians come in the winter because it is warmer for them to do their shopping and visit the museums, while people in the Middle East come in the summer when the "green is balm to their eyes," she said.

Conversations about the weather is as popular among Britons as queuing.

"It is a topic that is deployed nationwide as an ice-breaker," Jo Bryant an etiquette adviser and editor at Debrett's, the UK authority on etiquette and modern manners, said in a column for Reuters earlier this week.   Continued...