The IAAF World Youth Athletics Championships in Lille in 2011 © Getty
Boosting A City’s Image
Many Olympic host cities have been able to use the Games as a chance to improve their image and increase their profile on the world stage. Turin, for example, used the 2006 Winter Games to shed its industrial image and promote itself as a new tourist and business destination by showcasing its rich history, culture and high-tech industry to the world.
Some cities have also been able to use the process of bidding for the Games in the same way. The French city of Lille, for example, enjoyed a considerable boost to its global profile after bidding for the 2004 Olympic Games, which were eventually awarded to Athens.
While Lille did not make it on to the final list of five candidate cities, it had demonstrated its desire and ability to host major international events.
According to Nathan Starkman, General Director of Lille’s Development and Urbanisation agency, the most significant impact of the city’s Olympic bid was its contribution to the change of perception of Lille, both in France and overseas.
This improved image and heightened profile encouraged Lille’s successful bid to become to the 2004 European Capital of Culture – an event that brought a sizeable economic boost for the city, with a 30 per cent increase in tourist visitors during 2004.
Today, the annual number of tourists in Lille remains much higher than 10 years ago, with the city attracting visitors through numerous events organised as part of the Lille 3000 initiative, which was launched as a follow-up to the European Capital of Culture.
In 2011, the city hosted three art and scientific exhibitions, including a collection of works from the Saatchi Gallery in London, while it also staged the IAAF World Youth Athletics Championships, the FIH Men’s Champions Challenge II in field hockey and the 5th European Universities Rugby Sevens Championships.