Football Visitors

By | Category: Travel rumblings

I’ve never really considered the impact of football tourism. Up until yesterday when I would thought they were just people visiting the grounds of their rivals that week, buying the odd pie and pint and not much more than that. But some research from Visit Britain has made me think again. And being a Saturday it seems the right day to consider it.
Apparently, last year some 760,000 visitors came to the UK to attend matches. The Irish are the biggest visitors. Some 164,000 visit which, being one of our nearest neighbours, makes sense. Norway is the next country with 77,000 visitors coming and then there’s a surprise. 56,000 people come from the US to watch, that’s well ahead France and Belgium, our other closest neighbours. Obviously matches between teams from those countries and our home teams would account for a percentage of those visitors but that doesn’t really explain the high numbers from Norway or USA.
And like my first thought that football visitors wouldn’t spend a lot, that’s way off the mark as well. Football fans brought £595 million into the country meaning the average spend per person was £776. The average visitor to the UK brings only £563 so we could argue that we want many more football fans to come here. And when they come, the popular venues are in the north west. Just over 200,000 people come just to go to Manchester United’s Old Trafford and Liverpool’s Anfield grounds. 180,000 come to London to go to Chelsea, Arsenal and Spurs matches. So 50% of all visitors come to just five grounds leaving other big clubs like Manchester City to share the remainder.
An interesting question would be how long it takes a club that has spent heavily and is strongly rated (like Manchester City) to built up a core of overseas supporters so that it can entice them to their ground? And should every town wanting to encourage visitors actively support the development of their football team? And does this apply to rugby, ice hockey, basketball and so on?

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