As the first fixtures of the 2011/12 Barclays Premier League season kicked-off around the country, new figures released by VisitBritain reveal that over 750,000 inbound visitors who came to Britain last year experienced a football game, spending a substantial £595 million in the process, the equivalent to £776 per fan1.
For the first time, research by the national tourism agency demonstrates that Premier League football has mass international appeal and helps drives visits to the UK. It was for this reason that VisitBritain joined forces with the Premier League in 2008 to help promote the home of football in key overseas tourism markets using links to Premier League players and clubs.
Earlier this year VisitBritain launched a dedicated Premier League section on their website. This contains exclusive interviews with key international Premier League players on what they most like about living in Britain, as well as recommendations on what visitors should see and do while in the country2.
With matches broadcast live in 212 territories around the world it is no surprise that clubs such as Manchester United, Liverpool and Chelsea are increasingly seeing their fan-base becoming truly global. Those taking in a match in Britain are not shy of spending their money either - figures show that the average spend per visit for football loving overseas visitors is £776, considerably higher than the average for all inbound visitors of £563.
Patricia Yates, Director of Strategy & Communication at VisitBritain said:
“Not only do some of the best players in the world want to play in Britain, but their international fans want to follow them here to savour the atmosphere of a match.
“It is no surprise our international visitors come here to cheer on their sporting heroes and visit our world class stadia across Britain - from Old Trafford to the Emirates and Anfield to Wembley.
“Our partnership with the Premier League has enabled us to use football to connect with fans all around the world. It has given us access to some of the stars of the British game who have promoted Britain to their fans back home- and encouraged them to come and visit.”
Richard Scudamore, Chief Executive of the Premier League said:
“We know that that the Premier League is the most watched football league in the world and we put a lot of effort into connecting with our international fans, whether that is reaching out to them with tournaments like the Barclays Asia Trophy or the Barclays Premier League Trophy Tour. But nothing quite beats the excitement of match day, being inside a full Premier League ground and seeing a competitive match in the flesh, so it’s very encouraging to hear that so many international visitors want to experience football in this country”.
Around 40% of those 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 UAE. Among visitors who come here to visit friends and family it is those from Japan, China and Australia that are most likely to include going to a football match, with Norwegian business visitors once again topping the charts.
In terms of volume the market with the largest number of visits is Ireland, accounting for 164,000 of the total 767,000 visits that include football among the activities. Norway (77,000) is in second spot, followed by the USA (56,000), the Netherlands (41,000) and Germany (39,000).
The most popular venues for watching football were in the North West of England and in London, with 15% of all inbound visitors who said they had gone to a football match having done so at the current Premier League Champions ground Old Trafford. The top six most visited grounds by overseas fans were: Old Trafford (114,000), Anfield (89,000), Emirates Stadium (88,000), Stamford Bridge (54,000) and White Hart Lane (38,000). Figures also show that 23,000 fans had visited Wembley Stadium.
VisitBritain continues to build on the strong relationship it has with the Premier League. Following an initial two year partnership, an agreement with the Premier League was extended in 2010 for another three years to help position Britain as a welcoming destination for football fans from around the world.
For further information, please contact:
David Leslie (020 7578 1141) or Mark Di-Toro (020 7578 1098) at VisitBritain; or
The Premier League Press Office on 020 7864 9190 or go to www.premierleague.com
For more information contact:
VisitBritain Media Teampressandpr@visitbritain.com