By the time you read this, the Olympic Torch Relay will be well underway on its 70-day run. Depending on when this gets posted, it may even have got as far as Weston-super-Mare, the unchallenged jewel of the north Somerset coast whose beautiful beaches, near-perfect all year round weather and magnificent pier (newly reopened just a year ago) will form the perfect backdrop for the . . .

Sorry. Eagle-eyed readers may have noticed from the blurb to the right of this piece that Weston is, in fact, the seaside resort, which I have the honour of representing as its Member of Parliament. So I may be just a touch partisan in my assessment.

For all that, though, the Torch Relay is undoubtedly a rather brilliant way of bringing the excitement of the Olympics to the widest possible UK community. Its light will – figuratively, and to an extent, literally – shine on places and people that very often get overlooked, especially in a year when – necessarily – the nation’s capital is the main focus.

Summer Solstice at Stonehenge

Summer Solstice at Stonehenge

So I’m very happy to pay tribute to all the local and national media who will magnify this light as it progresses.  Hopefully it will not just get us all in the mood for the Games themselves, but also remind us what a brilliant, diverse and beautiful country we all share.

Part of the operation behind making this all happen involves social media, of course. Pictures and stories will fan out from the torch as it snakes around the country. And one of those doing the blogging, tweeting and whatever the verb is for posting stuff on Facebook as the torch progresses, is VisitBritain.

“17 per cent of German tourists want to go to the Highland Games”

There’ll be news on Love UK, VisitBritain’s Facebook page (with around 800,000 fans) along with an app to help them pass virtual flags around the world, and live tweets from @VisitBritain, while their corporate feed, @VisitBritainBiz will unveil daily ‘killer facts’ about what foreign tourists look for in a visit to the UK.

For example, 17 per cent of German tourists want to go to the Highland Games, 41 per cent of Russians would like to see the sun rise at Stonehenge and a rather modest 19 per cent of Americans fancy going shopping at Harrods.

Each of these gems derives from up-to-date visitor surveys which will delight and inform and, if deployed with skill, create a never-ending stream of conversation openers and pub quiz fodder.  Enjoy.

  • By
  • Minister for Tourism in UK Government at The Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).

Needless the say ‘The Stonehenge Tour Company’ offer private guided tours with Russian speaking expert guides

The Stonehenge Tour Company –