Recent research carried out on behalf of the British Council indicates that the United Kingdom's big events of 2012 – the Queen's Diamond Junilee celebrations, the Olympics and the Paralympics – have improved the UK’s standing abroad and created substantial major new interest in the country as a place to visit, study and do business.

The research (carried out by Ipsos MORI) surveyed 8000 adults in 11 key overseas markets – including the United States, China, India and Russia. It was commissioned as part of the British Council’s work to build relationships for the UK around the world through education, the English language and the arts.

The London 2012 Olympic Games have had a major overseas impact – with almost two thirds (64%) saying the UK did a good job at organising the Olympics (compared with only 6% who disagree), and 44% believing that the UK has a greater influence over world affairs as a result (with only 3% taking a negative view).

More than 1 person in 3 (36%) said the 2012 Games have made them more likely to visit the UK – and more than 1 person in 3 (35%) said the Games have made the UK more attractive to them as a place to do business or study. Fewer than 1 in 5 (18%) said the Olympics have not made them any more likely to want to visit, study or do business in the UK.

More than half of people questioned said the Olympics and Paralympics have made them think more positively about how the UK views disability (56%), the UK’s sporting prowess (52%), the UK’s arts scene (54%), and how friendly the people of the UK are (52%). Almost half said the Games have made them think more positively about the UK’s sense of humour (46%). In all cases, no more than 5% said the Games have had a negative effect on these views.

The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee also contributed to improved perceptions of the UK on a smaller scale. More than a quarter of people questioned (27%) said they had experienced or been aware of the Jubilee in some form – and, of those, 1 in 3 (31%) said they think more positively about the UK as a result, with only 3% saying that it has had a negative effect on their perceptions of the UK.

John Worne, the British Council’s Director of Strategy, said: “To know us is to love us and this year the UK has got everything right in turning some great national moments into global celebrations of excellence, ‘can do’ attitude and UK culture. These results show just what we can do when Team GB pulls together.
“The challenge now is to stay on top of the world in 2013. Without a huge global event like the Olympics next year, we need to keep on finding smart new ways to share our soft power assets: English, our education system, our vibrant arts scene and our entrepreneurial spirit to name but a few.”

Geographically, the research shows a particularly high impact in India – where more than three quarters believe that the UK did a good job at organising the Olympics (78%) and two thirds are more interested in doing business with or studying in the UK as a result (65%). China – hosts of the 2008 Olympics – were least likely to be positive about the UK’s job of organising the 2012 Games (36%), but 43% still believe that the Games have improved the UK’s influence over world affairs.