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London sees a boom in tourism ahead of Olympic Games


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LONDON — Being a tourist means doing the "touristy things." And nothing says "I've never been here before" better than taking pictures at popular landmarks.

Daniel Rossouw, from Cape Town, South Africa, needed his moment in front of the Tower Bridge of London captured forever in a photograph. "(It's a) once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get your picture there at the bridge itself," he said.

It's the same place King Henry VII had two of his wives beheaded more than 400 years ago. But today, the bridge is a symbol of peace, dawning the five Olympic rings in anticipation of the 2012 Summer Games.

Security Concerns addressed
by Nadine Wimmer

With so many people in London for the Olympic Games, there is wide-spread concern over security measures and potential terrorist attacks.

Shortly before his trip to London, GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney to NBC News "there are a few things that were disconcerting" to him about the security provisions London is taking. But British Prime Minister David Cameron responded Thursday to Romney's comments, saying while it's a big undertaking for a city of London's size, adequate security measures have been taken.

"I have personally chaired regular security meetings in the run-up to this, and I'm pleased to tell you that all plans, including detailed contingency plans, are in place," Cameron said.

Thursday, thousands of guards ran Olympic visitors through security procedures, similar to those at airports. And leaders of G4S, the private security firm hired to protect the games, said hundreds of new guards were arriving to replace military personnel at security checkpoints.

Some 9,000 police officers are also on the ground, and they will be backed up by Britain's military arsenal of more than 13,000 soldiers, an aircraft carrier in the Thames River, surface-to-air missiles on apartment buildings, and new technology that remotely controls vehicles if they get carjacked.

"There are extra police on the streets of London, in the skies above, and in the waters of the Thames," Cameron said, "and they are backed by the finest armed forces in the world."

"It's awesome! It's very exciting! We can't wait!" said Paul Dolance, a native of Melbourne, Australia, who's in London for the games.

When KSL News met up with them, Dolance and his friends were also having their pictures taken — silly pose and all — by the Tower Bridge.

"To be here in London ... it's a special city, and to have the Olympics, it's gotta be fantastic," Dolance said.

The games are bringing people from across the world to London. We found tourists from Columbia, India, China, the Middle East, even those from London — who, of course, are living with many more visitors than normal.

"It's exciting because, I mean, it's the Olympics," said London resident Leana Nelson. "It's exciting times ahead, but it's a little bit crazy."

But "crazy" is what you expect from the Olympics, sort of a controlled chaos. As far as tourism goes, though, nothing gets people to your town, your country, quite like the Olympic Games.

For every picture taken, every smile, and every hat fixed before saying "cheese," it means somebody is here, excited to spend money just to be at the games.

"It's a great experience just being here for the Olympics," Rossouw said.

Contributing: Nadine Wimmer and Tom Kirkland

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