Soccer Providing Boost for Tourism in Britain
As the birthplace of soccer — football as it's known to the rest of the world — and home to arguably the sport's greatest league (Barclays Premier League), Britain is a must-visit destination for any die-hard fan.
It seems travelers are aware.
International Passenger Survey research conducted by the Office for National Statistics on behalf of Visit Britain shows that more and more travelers are heading to the U.K. to take part in its favorite pastime.
Data obtained by Sky News shows that approximately 800,000 international visitors attended a soccer match in the U.K. in 2014, signaling a six percent rise from 2010, in turn bringing in £684 million ($1.05 billion) to the region's economy.
"Football tourism is a real draw for this country, something millions of fans around the world connect with," VisitBritain Director Patricia Yates told Sky News. "They want to come and see football in Britain and they spend about £680 million in this country."
"As we see new markets coming on like China and Malaysia and the growth of tourism for that market of course people want to come to Britain and see football played in the home of sport."
Nearby Republic of Ireland was the largest source of soccer tourists in 2014, with 121,000 Irish travelers visiting the U.K. to experience a soccer match. Norway and Sweden ranked second and third with 93,000 and 58,000 visitors, respectively.
Americans accounted for 53,000 of soccer-related visitors.
Visit Britain also revealed that international soccer visitors spend an average of £855 ($1,319) over the course of their stay. That amount is roughly £200 ($308) more than international travelers visiting for other reasons.
As far as the soccer venues that hosted the most international visitors in 2014, Manchester United's Old Trafford and Arsenal's Emirates Stadium led the way with 109,000 each. Liverpool's Anfield ranked third with 99,000, and defending Premier League champion Chelsea hosted 89,000 at Stamford Bridge.
"The Premier League is proud of its role in promoting Britain across the world," Premier League Chief Executive Richard Scudamore told Sky News. "There are 1.2 billion people across the globe who are fans of the league and we want to engage with as many of them as possible."
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