A CAMPAIGN to help Lake District businesses benefit from the Olympics beat all expectations at its launch in Bowness.

More than 200 people from the local business community turned up to find out about the project and an early uptake saw more than 50 businesses sign up.

Nigel Hynes from the London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games (LOCOG) cultural olympiad team, joined representatives from the Lakes Hospitality Association, tourism associations and Lakes Alive, to support the venture.

Nick Truch, director of Lakes Marketing - which will run the campaign - outlined plans which include engaging journalists from top publications in Australia, China, Japan, Europe and the USA.

Visiting journalists will be given a personalised itinerary – incorporating the torch relay and Lakes Alive event on June 21 – and a campaign website will be set up to attract people to the area.

Speaking after the meeting, Mr Truch said businesses joining the scheme would help by offering hotel accommodation and hospitality, visitor passes and retail support.

“People abroad will be hungry to find out more about Britain, just as we sought more information about China at the time of the Beijing Olympics,” he said.

“Many foreign journalists, particularly those outside the sports field, will be looking for good stories about other aspects of Britain and it is exactly that opportunity that this campaign is aimed at.”

Barney Cunliffe, managing director at Gilpin Lodge, Bow-ness, said: “A lot of hoteliers will be affected as many tour operators cannot offer their normal service but this campaign can certainly mitigate that, not necessarily at the time of the Games, but before and after.

“The Lake District is a phenomenal success in terms of the domestic market but now we can welcome the international market – it is a once in a lifetime opportunity to spread the word on what is available here.”

Although the uptake of businesses has been hailed as a success, it is hoped others may still want to get on board with the campaign.