News: VisitBritain reveals importance of football to tourism sector

New research from national tourism agency VisitBritain demonstrates the increasing importance of football in driving inbound tourism to the UK and in boosting visitor spending.

A new report, published today, shows that overseas visitors who went to a football match spent £1.4 billion across the UK in total during their trip in 2019, up 84 per cent on the £742 million spent in 2011 when the research was last conducted.

There were 1.5 million visits to the UK in 2019 that included watching a live football match, up 66 per cent compared to 2011 when there were 909,000 visits.

Visitors who attended a football match also spent more and stayed longer, spending £909 per visit on average, 31 per cent more than the global visitor average of £696 in 2019, and staying ten nights compared to seven.

It is not just leisure visitors that enjoyed football matches.

Out of the 1.5 million who went to a football match during their stay, 94,000 were international business visitors.

Football also took the top spot in 2019 as the most popular live sporting event for international tourists to the UK.

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Tourism minister, Nigel Huddleston, said: “Our national game is a massive draw for visitors that want to come and watch top-class football from some of the best leagues in the world.

“Football tourists boost local economies during the off-peak tourism season supporting restaurants, hotels and hospitality venues.

“I will continue to work closely with VisitBritain, the Premier League and the EFL to keep up this momentum.”

More than half of visitors who watched football during their trip also took time to see the famous monuments and buildings of the country and almost three-quarters included a restaurant meal.

They were also more likely than other inbound visitors to undertake these activities, underscoring the additional value football visitors bring to the economy.

Premier League chief executive, Richard Masters, said: “The Premier League and its clubs provide competitive football, featuring the world’s best players and managers, in front of brilliant fans.

“We are very proud of the positive impact the League has on both national and local economies.

“Seeing the competition in action is fantastic and we look forward to welcoming more international visitors to our stadiums in the future.”

The top three source markets for football-watching visitors in 2019 were the Irish Republic with 175,000 visits followed by Germany with 126,000 and the USA with 113,000.

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Image: Samuel Regan-Asante/Unsplash

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