By Araks-Naomi Zainali

London 2012 has encouraged the world to warm towards the UK, according to an international survey by VisitBritain.

Both before and after the Games researches asked 15 countries to rank 50 nations on various qualities.

The hospitality displayed by the 70,000 Olympic and Paralympic volunteers, whose activities included staffing venues, herding crowds and cleaning toilets, helped propel Britain from 12th to 9th place in the “friendliness to tourists” category.  Ebullient, cheerful and purple-clad, they dispelled the myth of British reserve and earned the justly deserved title of Games Makers.

Big Ben - LondonWith the likes of Mo Farah, Ellie Simmonds and Bradley Wiggins topping the Olympic tables, and a heartening total of 65 medals, Britain has moved up two places to rank 5th in terms of sporting excellence.  It has overtaken Canada to become the fourth strongest national “brand”, behind the US, France and Germany, and takes fourth position for cultural richness.

No doubt both of these successes can be attributed in part to Danny Boyle’s bizarre but magical opening ceremony.  Saluting the NHS, the Suffragettes and the Industrial Revolution, while featuring a parachuting Queen and a musical number from Mr Bean, Boyle’s brainchild truly depicted an “isle of wonder.”

Perhaps most importantly, the survey also revealed that 98% of Games visitors would advise friends and family to holiday here, hopefully signalling a welcome boost to the tourist industry.

Yet it was not all good news. Despite traditional British pride in its rolling countryside, the home of the Lake District, the Highlands and the Yorkshire Moors still lags behind in the “natural beauty” category, crawling from 19th to 18th place in the league table.  This seems difficult to explain, given the international TV coverage of the torch relay.

And while Russia, China, Australia and South Korea rated Britain particularly highly, Turkey remains far from enamoured.  If the VisitBritain survey had been conducted in Turkey alone, Britain would take 38th place for the welcome (or lack of welcome) shown to overseas visitors.

What do you think Britain should do to enhance its global image even further? Let us know in the comments below!

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