LONDON: The Premier League has been confirmed as playing an increasingly important role in bringing tourists to Britain.
New figures released by national tourism agency VisitBritain show that nearly one million overseas visitors watched a game of football in 2011.
Results taken from the 2011 Office for National Statistics International Passenger Survey showed that 900,000 foreign football tourists spent a substantial £706m, the equivalent of £785 per fan, which is £200 more than the average visitor (£583).
It is becoming apparent that watching top flight football is becoming increasingly attractive for tourists coming to this country. The same research by VisitBritain in 2010 found 750,000 foreign fans came to Britain and spent £595m.
VisitBritain joined forces with the Premier League 2008 to help promote the home of football in key overseas tourism markets using links to – and testimonials from – Premier League players and clubs.
Around 40pc of foreign fans going to a football match said that watching sport was the main reason for visiting the UK. The research also suggests that football works as a highly effective tool in enticing visitors to Britain at some of the quieter times of the year, with the greatest proportion of inbound visitors going to a football match between January and March.
Holiday visitors from Norway have the highest propensity to include ‘going to a football match’ (one-in-thirteen), followed by visits from the United Arab Emirates. The markets generating the highest numbers of football spectating visits in 2011 were; Ireland (174,000), Norway (80,000), USA (61,000), Spain (54,000) and Germany (48,000). Mexico, Sweden and Iceland also featured highly in the category of ‘highest chance of going to a game’.
The Premier League grounds attracting the largest number of overseas fans are in the North West. Nearly 20pc of visitors who came here to see a game went to Old Trafford, followed closely by Anfield. Three London grounds, Emirates Stadium, Stamford Bridge and White Hart Lane, were next most popular.
The Barclays Premier League is the biggest continuous annual global sporting event in the world. Across nine months of the year 380 matches are viewed in 212 territories worldwide and coverage of the matches is available in approximately 720m households.
Richard Scudamore, chief executive of the Premier League said: “The Premier League is now the most watched and supported football league in the world and there’s a huge amount of effort being made to connect with our 900m international fans.
“Our clubs have worked very hard to make Premier League grounds more welcoming and are striving to deliver a first-rate experience for all fans. Little beats the thrill of a Premier League matchday and it’s very encouraging to hear that football can play an important role in increasing the numbers of international visitors to this country.”
Sandie Dawe, chief executive of VisitBritain said: “The Premier League is known as the most international and exciting league in the world, supported by fans across the globe who want to find out more about their favourite players, come and see them play and explore their local areas.
“Our partnership with the Premier League not only highlights the value of sports tourism to the UK economy, but it also helps drive inbound visits by inspiring travel to the UK at traditionally quieter times of the year.”
Minister for Sport and Tourism Hugh Robertson MP said: “The Premier League is one of this country’s most successful exports and known the world over. It is no surprise that it has become a big draw for tourists who want to experience the most exciting league in the world in person. VisitBritain and the Premier League’s partnership is also showing overseas fans what more our country has to offer, helping to drive strong tourist spend.”
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