Sport increases Britain’s attraction

Figures released by VisitBritain have revealed that almost 900,000 overseas visits to the UK featured watching a football match. The figure, which is a big rise on 2010’s total of approximately 750,000, is being linked to the huge draw of the English Premier League around the world.

On average a visitor to Britain will spend somewhere in the region of £500-600, however those watching a football match average £792.

“We are using the glamour of the footballers, and the Premier League’s huge reach, to capture the imagination of people from around world,” explained Sandie Dawe CEO of VisitBritain in an exclusive interview with Travel Daily. “From this, we’ll bring people to the UK and not just to London but to Newcastle, Southampton, Swansea and all of the cities they’ve been exposed to.

“The Olympic Games is acting as a similar advert for Britain. Now, after an extensive advertising campaign where, together with our partners, we’ve spent GBP35 million, we are turning our focus to closing the sale,” she continued.

“Our figures show that for the first six months of 2012 we saw a 2% year-on-year rise on visitor numbers and of that, we are experiencing a record number of holiday visitors.”

While the markets where there was a higher chance of seeing a football match were the likes of Ireland, Norway, Iceland, Sweden and Mexico, the focus is increasingly turning to the Far East and the growth capabilities there.

“We are continuously looking to bring in new trade partnerships and schedule press trips with local tourist boards,” added Dowe. “A great example would be the work we’re doing with Marketing Manchester. For instance, Manchester United recently played Shanghai Shenhua FC, and we brought along 45 local travel trade contacts to show how they can promote Manchester and the Peak District, on the back of the Premier League.

“We’ve run similar initiatives in Japan – where they’re incredibly excited about Manchester United’s new signing, Shinji Kagawa. So we brought Japanese travel agents to the area; using football to promote Manchester and the Beatles anniversary for Liverpool.”

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