Attractions industry news

14 Jun 2019

Premier League football a 'significant generator' of inbound tourism

The English Premier League (EPL) is a major driver of inbound tourism into Britain – especially when it comes to sports fans from long-haul destinations.

Research by tourism agency VisitBritain shows that the EPL is a leading driver of inbound tourism amongst overseas football fans, with more than three-quarters of those surveyed intending to visit the UK during the next two years.

Chinese football fans surveyed showed the greatest intention with 92 per cent intending to visit the UK within the next two years, followed by India (85 per cent) and the US (80 per cent).

VisitBritain’s ‘International Football Research report also found that the EPL had a greater pull for tourists than the top leagues in other countries.

Two-thirds (66 per cent) of those who had travelled to watch a football match in the UK saw a Premier League match, making it the most popular.

This compared to 39 per cent who had watched a top league match when they had travelled to watch football outside of the UK.

Football is the number one sporting draw for international tourists to the UK with more than 800,000 international visitors going to a football match annually, spending £684m during their time in the country.

The research, carried out across Brazil, China, India, Norway, Sweden and the US, targeted football fans and also what VisitBritain terms as ‘buzzseekers,’ a segment of travellers who like action and excitement on their holidays, to understand the role that football plays in driving immediacy to visit Britain.

The results echo additional research by VisitBritain into ‘dream activities’ for potential visitors across 17 international markets. It showed that watching a Premier League game live was a dream activity for one in four, with a similar proportion keen to watch a Premier League football match in a pub with locals.

“This research cements the huge pull that Premier League football has in attracting international tourists to Britain," said VisitBritain director Patricia Yates.

She added that the EPL is also a lifeline for regional tourism.

"People are keen to visit the clubs of their sporting heroes – but also take in associated visitor attractions and destinations.

“It demonstrates the Premier League’s potential in driving regional tourism by encouraging visitors to explore different parts of Britain, and football’s effectiveness in driving growth across the low and shoulder seasons, supporting local economies.”

EPL Interim CEO Richard Masters added that the research shows how the league's efforts at growing its presence across global markets is bearing fruit.

"We put a lot of effort into connecting with our international fans," he said.

"Nothing quite beats the excitement of a match day, being inside a full Premier League ground and seeing a match in the flesh, so it’s very encouraging to hear that so many international visitors want to experience football in this country.”

Manchester United was the top team followed with 70 per cent of Premier League followers in the markets surveyed supporting them. Liverpool was second with 66 per cent and Chelsea third with 62 per cent.

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