London 2012: Kent tackles busiest Olympic travel day
Kent is dealing with its busiest cross-Channel day for Olympic visitors as thousands arrive from mainland Europe for the start of the athletics.
Tourism group Visit Kent says 7,300 people will descend on key transport hubs on Friday from Dover ferry services and the Eurotunnel in Folkestone.
Ferry firms have deployed extra staff, and Eurotunnel expects the number of vehicles it takes to the UK to double.
A 200-strong army of Games "greeters" has been posted around the county.
P&0 Ferries said it had increased its workforce by 270 to cope with the surge in visitors from France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany.
And some motorists travelling from France have been offered a park and ride service taking them all the way to Orpington in Kent.'Business as usual'
The Port of Dover said it was working closely with the Department for Transport and UK Border Agency to cope with the higher traffic volumes above and beyond that caused by annual summer holidaymakers.
Director of operations Robin Dodridge said: "Contingency plans are in place to ensure that all traffic transiting the Port of Dover is handled efficiently and safely at all times.
London 2012 - One extraordinary year
"Port staff will be working round-the-clock to ensure that not only do visitors enjoy a relaxing start to their Olympic experience, but also to maintain 'business as usual' for the UK and continental freight industry using the port 24 hours a day."
Eurotunnel said it expected to carry around 7,000 vehicles a day into the UK from Calais over the coming weekend - double the normal amount over the same period.
A spokesman said it would lay on five services an hour rather than two, increase shuttle speeds to reduce crossing times by five minutes, and use an extra half shuttle to carry 60 more cars every two hours.
The influx over the next five days would lead to a 12% overall rise in bookings compared to the same period last year, he added.
Meanwhile, a 200-strong army of Games "greeters" - dressed in pink - have ben deployed at key travel hubs to act as a visible point of contact.
They include the Port of Dover, Ashford and Ebbsfleet international stations, and visitor accommodation sites such as the University of Kent in Canterbury, and Gravesham campsite.
There is a team of French volunteer greeters based in Calais and some aboard P&O Ferries running between Calais and Dover to assist travellers and tell them how and where to travel around Kent.
Visit Kent expects an extra 7,300 visitors on Friday, based on forecasts from the Olympic Delivery Authority, bookings from ferries and the Eurotunnel, and national tour operators for mainland Europe.