Football Tourism Booming In U.K. As Close To 1 Million Fans Visited Last Year
A study has revealed that nearly a million overseas visitors traveled to the U.K. last year to watch football matches, making Great Britain "a leading sports tourism destination," according to Mark Townsend of the London GUARDIAN. Despite the high ticket prices and the problems of violence and racism in the game, new figures from national tourism agency VisitBritain "reaffirm the global allure of British football, particularly the Premier League." VisitBritain released figures that show 900,000 football supporters visited the U.K. last year. U.K. Minister for Sport and Tourism Hugh Robertson described the Premier League as "one of this country's most-successful exports." Football tourists collectively spent £706M ($1.1B), or £785 ($1,250) per fan – £200 ($320) more than the average visitor to Britain – with "many arriving during the traditionally quieter period for tourism between January and March." Football was also found "to encourage visitors to explore beyond London, with the stadiums attracting the largest number of overseas fans in the northwest" (GUARDIAN, 10/20).